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Foxconn workers on strike over iPhone 5 production, labor group says

2,000 to 3,000 workers are said to be on strike, halting some iPhone 5 production

By Michael Kan, James Niccolai
October 5, 2012 08:11 PM ET

IDG News Service - Thousands of workers went on strike at a Foxconn factory in China on Friday, bringing some iPhone 5 production lines to a halt, a labor rights group said.

The strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory began at 1 p.m. local time and involved 3,000 to 4,000 workers, according to New York-based China Labor Watch, which said it received its information from workers at the plant.

The workers are upset about stricter quality-control requirements introduced for the new Apple smartphone, the labor group said. They are also upset at being made to work through a Chinese national holiday this week, it said.

"According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day," China Labor Watch said. It also reported that quality-control inspectors were attacked.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Foxconn, based in Taiwan, could not be reached for comment. It was not possible to confirm independently the number of workers striking.

It wouldn't be the first disruption at a Foxconn plant in China. Last month, 2,000 workers rioted at a factory in Taiyuan after what workers described as aggressive behavior from security guards.

This latest incident followed tighter rules to prevent tiny indentations on the phones and scratches to the phones' frames and back covers. The new iPhone 5 is said to be more susceptible to such markings.

A worker at the plant told IDG News Service Friday that because quality controls have been stepped up, more products are being intercepted before they leave the production line, which means volume targets aren't being met.

"As a result, there was conflict and they beat our people," said the worker, who did not give her name but said she works in the "quality department."

She claimed workers at the plant were beaten twice last week for similar reasons. "Our long-suppressed anger erupted and we went on strike," she said, communicating via Tencent Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like service.

A fight between workers and quality-control inspectors on Friday resulted in some injuries and people being taken to the hospital, China Labor Watch said.

"They have such high expectations for these products, even if you raise the demands a little bit it makes a huge difference to the pressure on the workers," Li Qiang, China Labor Watch's executive director, said in an interview.

He last heard from workers at the plant late Friday night and the strike had not been resolved, he said.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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