Saturday, October 06, 2012

Foxconn workers strike over iPhone 5 pressures

Foxconn workers are apparently on strike, in a move that could affect iPhone 5 supplies. There are reportedly between 3,000 and 4,000 workers on strike at the Foxconn Zhengzhou plant, according to a press release issued by China Labor Watch.

According to the press release, embedded below, the strike began at 1 p.m. Beijing time on Oct. 5, is ongoing, and involves workers from the Onsite Quality Control (OQC) line. Among the reasons behind the strike were unreasonably strict quality demands that could not be met, particularly without the necessary training.

In addition, due to the added stresses of meeting these requirements, quality control inspectors fell into conflict with workers and were beaten, more than once.

The press release reads as follows:
New York) China Labor Watch (CLW) announced that at 1:00PM on October 5 (Beijing time), a strike occurred at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory that, according to workers, involved three to four thousand production workers. In addition to demanding that workers work during the holiday, Foxconn raised overly strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills. This led to workers turning out products that did not meet standards and ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. Additionally, quality control inspectors fell into to conflicts with workers and were beat up multiple times by workers. Factory management turned a deaf ear to complaints about these conflicts and took no corrective measures. The result of both of these circumstances was a widespread work stoppage on the factory floor among workers and inspectors.

The majority of workers who participated in this strike were workers from the OQC (onsite quality control) line. According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day. It was reported that factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard. This led to a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. On top of this, they were not permitted to have a vacation during the holiday. This combination of factors led to the strike.

That quality control inspectors would also strike is of no surprise. According to workers, there was a fight between workers and quality control inspectors in area K that led to the damage in inspection room CA, the injury of some people, and the hospitalization of others. After this, another similar incident occurred in area K, once again leading to quality control inspectors getting beat up. Yesterday, inspectors in area L received physical threats. When inspectors reported these issues to factory management, the management simply ignored and turned their back on the issue. For these reasons, all day and night shift inspectors carried out a work stoppage today that paralyzed the production lines.

CLW Executive Director Li Qiang said, “This strike is a result of the fact that these workers just have too much pressure.”
According to the site, "China Labor Watch views Chinese workers' rights as inalienable human rights and is dedicated to promoting workers' fair redistribution of wealth under globalization."

Early this year, a New York Times expose pointed out issues at Foxconn, Apple's biggest manufacturing partner. Since then, Apple has joined the Fair Labor Association, the first tech company to do so, and the FLA audited Apple's suppliers at the company's request.

Despite vowing to fix issues found during the audit, Foxconn has not managed to remain out of the news since then.

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