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Strike at Foxconn site making iPhone 5 says labor advocacy group

iPhone 5 factory workers  halted work last Friday to demand improvements on their working conditions, based on a report from a worker’s rights organizations.

Thousands of workers in China at Foxconn’s factory in China protested over the management’s “overly strict demands” in the production of the hit iPhone 5, said the report from China Labor Watch.

According to the New York-based advocacy group with sources in China, production of iPhone 5 was stopped for several hours on Friday. Many of the protesters belong to the quality control line for the product. There were reported violent clashes between inspectors and workers resulting to hospitalization for some.

The incident was also confirmed by the Chinese media, Xinhua. Over a hundred quality inspectors reportedly refused to go to work for fear of being assaulted by workers in the plant. One of the inspectors was attacked previously due to demanding standards being implemented by quality control.

Foxconn denied reports from CLW and Xinhua but confirmed that were some “disputes” that happened some time during the week.

“Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate,” Foxconn said. “There has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule.”

The company acknowledged that small groups of quality control people and production line workers clashed  on October 1 and 2 in its Zhengzhou plant.

Foxconn reported: “These were isolated incidents and were immediately addressed and measures taken, including providing additional staff for the lines in question. “This is consistent with our efforts to work with our employees to continuously enhance any aspects of our production that can improve the workplace and manufacturing practices.”

The huge Zhengzhou plant accommodates around 190,000 workers and was recently visited by Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the year.

CLW cited overly strict standards from quality control department which demanded precision down to increments as tiny as two-hundredths of a millimeter.

“Employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard,” said CLW’s report as the iPhone 5 was designed poorly.

Apple demanded more strict inspections after customers complained of “aesthetic flaws” on the product, reported Xinhua. Apple is yet to comment on this alleged demand.

The China staff of CLW first heard of the rumored clashes, which was then verified by the group’s sources at Foxconn.

The workers were denied vacation leaves during the country’s Golden Week holiday, adding to the tension prior to the incident. The holiday usually gives workers a paid 3-day off.

Foxconn said that workers who went to work during the holidays were not forced and paid their due overtime hourly rate three time higher that their regular hourly rate,  in compliance with the Chinese labor laws.

A series of suicides at Foxconn facilities about 2 years ago draw media attention to the poor working conditions, illegal demands for overtime, and unsafe working environments in the factories. Foxconn is only one of the many factories overseas that giant U.S. factories are working with to come up with their products. Apple, the world’s number one company, is also taking a hit when its partner overseas like Foxconn violates labor standards seen in the west as abusive.

Apple is now an active member of a labor advocacy group Fair Labor Association which inspects working conditions of factories in China.

Last month, Foxconn closed its Taiyuan factory following a riot of 2,000 workers due to poor working conditions.

source: cnn

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