BEIJING -- A huge brawl by Chinese factory
employees who assemble electronic products for Apple is the latest in a
series of disturbances to trouble the Foxconn Technology Group of
Taiwan, a major supplier to Apple and other foreign companies sourcing
components from China.
Forty people were hurt,
three seriously, during a fight among workers at the Foxconn plant in
the central Chinese city of Taiyuan, reported Xinhua, China's state-run
news agency. About 5,000 policemen restored order by Monday morning,
"The plant is closed today for
investigation," Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo told the Reuters news
service on Monday. A company statement said 2,000 workers were involved
in what it called a personal dispute among employees. Photos posted
online showed smashed windows and ranks of riot police.
the past two years, Foxconn and Apple have faced regular criticism for
the labor conditions at Foxconn's huge facilities, which employ 1
million people across China. Worker suicides grew so frequent that some
factories installed safety nets outside employee dormitories.
two companies have pledged to improve conditions, but labor rights
groups say harsh practices continue, including excessive and unpaid
The fight erupted when workers from
eastern Shandong province clashed with others from central Henan
province, Xinhua reported a Taiyuan official saying. The China News
Service said that security guards sparked the violence by beating some
Shandong workers. Online, many Chinese voiced disbelief at the official
accounts and injury toll. Some, not posting with real names, lamented
that only in China could a company like Foxconn survive.
between worker groups brought in from different parts of China, as well
as discontent at working conditions, may be stirred both by Apple's
commercial success and China's labor shortage. As consumers worldwide
line up to buy the new iPhone 5, both Foxconn and the Chinese government
must hustle to find the manpower to meet demand.
a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, finding factory workers may
not seem an onerous task, yet fast-aging China suffers a shortage of
young workers. To lower costs, Foxconn, like other companies, has moved
its big plants inland from more expensive coastal areas, and it enjoys
official help to man the assembly lines.
August, Henan province promised Foxconn it could deliver 200,000 workers
to help the firm meet orders for the iPhone 5, but despite a major
recruitment investment it has failed to hit the target, reported the
China Business newspaper Saturday.