Foxconn iPhone 5 Factory Re-opens After Riot

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

iPhone 5 supplies not affected, but Foxconn conditions are in question

iPhone maker Foxconn re-opened its plant in Taiyuan, China, which makes the iPhone 5. The factory closed for one day due to a massive fight among 2000 workers, but supply of Apple’s smartphone won’t be affected.

The fight injured 40 people, and involved 2000 of the factory’s total of 79,000 workers, according to reports from Chinese state news agency Xinhua. A heavy police presence broke the fight up, and police were still there as staff returned to work today, at a visibly battered Foxconn factory, according to Reuters.

Videos on Youtube, which could not be verified showed large numbers of people, riot police and emergency vehicles.

Foxconn story

Foxconn factory Shenzhen China 2005 - by Steve Jurvetson from Wikimedia

Foxconn blamed the incident on a personal dispute which spun out of control and drew a large crowd, “triggering chaos”. Official sources have accepted this, although online reports have suggested that the incident was sparked by an incident involving a guard and a worker.

It’s clear that heavy police presence quelled the violence – about 5,000 police attended, and some workers were  arrested.

Foxconn’s factories make electronic goods including the iPhone 5 and iPad, as well as equipment for HP, Microsoft, and many others, and electronics for other industries such as a the automotive sector.

Foxconn will not discuss what equipment is made a t which factory, but staff have confirmed to both Reuters and the Financial Times that the Taiyuan plant was making the iPhone 5 – although there is apparently enough inventory to keep would-be purchasers happy.

Chinese microblogging site Weibo published photos showing damage to the factory and other buildings, but these could not be verified and have since been taken down.

Foxconn employs around 1.2 million workers, with facilities in Taijuan in the north, Shenzhen in the south, Chengdu in the west and Zhengzhou in central China, and also operates in Europe (Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) as well as Brazil, Mexico and Vietnam. Foxconn is itself a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

Conditions at Foxconn became controversial when worker suicides last year drew media attention. Earlier this year that explosions at Foxconn plants (pictured) were caused by aluminium dust from the milling and polishing of iMacs and iPads.

Foxconn has since promised to reduce hours and improve pay and staff representation.

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