Foxconn plant in China resumes production following shutdown over worker brawl

September 25, 2012

Foxconn resumed production Tuesday at its facility in Taiyuan, China, after a fight involving 2,000 workers halted production for a full day.

The Taiyuan facility is in northern China and has 79,000 employees and makes automobile electronic components, precision moldings and consumer electronic components, according to a statement from Foxconn sent to The Washington Post.

The one-day shutdown is expected to have a small impact on the supply lines of its clients. It’s unclear whether Apple components are made at this particular plant. Analysts, including Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu say that Foxconn tends to spread its production around, so it’s likely that some components for the iPhone 5 may be made at the facility. Bloomberg reported that Fubon Financial Holding Co. Jeff Pu noted out that the Taiyuan plant is not an iPhone assembly plant.

The company said that the dispute escalated from a personal disagreement between workers.

The disturbance lasted for approximately four hours. The company said that 40 people were taken to the hospital, but, contrary to what some news organizations have reported, no employees died in the incident.

According to Bloomberg, those fighting damaged a local shop as well as factory gates and police vehicles.

The company says that the disturbance did not “appear to be work-related.” But the fight has bolstered criticism of Foxconn’s labor practices from advocacy groups around the world.

As the Associated Press reported, the Foxconn workers’ actions underscore growing tensions in China’s labor force that are aggravated by a slowing economy.

The New York-based group China Labor Watch alleges that Foxconn workers are subjected to a combination of low wages, poor treatment from guards and little to no rest while working — pressure cooker conditions that increase the likelihood of major problems.

“Given such stress, the workers are on edge, and incidents like the one yesterday are more likely to occur,” the company said in a statement on the fight.

The Foxconn facilities where workers assemble iPhones have been independently audited by the Fair Labor Association, which Apple joined in January.

The audits found that workers often exceed the maximum limits on working hours per week and that there are serious communication problems between workers and managers, but said that labor conditions at those facilities are improving. The group will continue to monitor the state of working conditions at plants that make Apple products in the future.

Related stories:

Foxconn and Apple supply: What are the effects?

Foxconn plant in China closes after workers’ brawl

Apple supplier’s factory in China resumes production after brawl highlights labor tensions

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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