Foxconn Workers Strike Over iPhone 5 Quality Demands
By Chloe Albanesius A labor rights group said Friday that workers on the iPhone 5 production line at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory went on strike earlier this week amidst overly burdensome quality control demands for Apple's new smartphone.
Approximately 3,000-4,000 workers went on strike on Monday, prompting a "widespread work stoppage on the factory floor," China Labor Watch said in a statement.
"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.
Most of the workers, the group said, worked in onsite quality control (OQC). China Labor Watch said Foxconn and Apple imposed "strict quality demands" on workers regarding indentation standards and not allowing the frame and back cover of the phone to be scratched.
Furthermore, Foxconn did not allow workers to take a vacation day on Monday, which was China's National Day.
The labor group also said there were physical fights on the factory floor over the quality control issue, resulting in "the injury of some people, and the hospitalization of others."
"This strike is a result of the fact that these workers just have too much pressure," Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, said in a statement.
In a statement, Foxconn confirmed that there were "two disputes between a small group of production line workers and Quality Assurance (QA) personnel" on Oct. 1 and 2.
The company denied, however, that production was halted. "Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate, there has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule," Foxconn said.
Foxconn took immediate action, a spokeswoman said, "including providing additional staff for the lines in question, to address the issues raised by both production workers and QA personnel."
Employees who worked on National Day volunteered to do so, she continued, and were paid three times their normal wage.
"Foxconn takes our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we work hard to give our 1.2 million employees in China a safe and positive working environment and compensation and benefits that are competitive with all of our industry peers in that location," the firm said. "We do this because it is our policy, but we also do this because we want to continue to be the employer-of-choice in our industry."
One of those quality issues is the fact that the back and side panels on the new iPhone 5 appear to be very prone to scratching. Apple's Phil Schiller made headlines recently when he said such imperfections were "normal." But more recently, it was reported that those same back panels will be used on the rumored iPad mini, and the scratching issue had held up production.
Labor rights at Foxconn have been a huge issue of late, with various groups accusing the firm of worker abuses. Earlier this year, Apple ordered an audit of the Foxconn facilities that produce its products, which showed excessive overtime and unsafe working conditions. Recently, it was reported that Foxconn was taking steps to rectify the problems.