Apple’s iPhone 5 assembly lines in China have once again been hit with a huge dose of worker dissatisfaction and controversy – the scale of which remains unclear due to largely conflicting reports. What is clear however is that Apple’s supposed intention to improve general working and living conditions along with overall quality of life for employees of Foxconn is so far falling short of the mark.
According to an independent organization involved in campaigns for workers’ rights across the region, Foxconn was hit by an enormous strike on Friday as thousands of employees refused to attend their posts for up to 24-hours. They stated that the imposition of “overly strict” demands from supervisors and plant managers overseeing production of the iPhone 5 caused outrage across Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory.
The report goes on to suggest that the strike brought production of the iPhone 5 to an absolute standstill and effectively paralyzed the plant as a whole for several hours at least. Most of those involved are said to have been from the area of the plant responsible for quality control checks, of whom several clashed with other workers in sometimes violent altercations, according to the same report.
Xinhua on the other hand, China’s state news agency, painted a largely different picture of the incident in its own report which suggested that approximately 100 inspectors working on the plant’s quality control line did not attend their posts following reports of an employee assault. Xinhua stated that the disruption led to a stoppage of production lasting no more than an hour, which was followed by an immediate return to full-capacity iPhone 5 assembly.
Those on the scene however remained adamant that the shut-down in production at the Xinhua was much longer, having begun Friday and remaining unresolved until Saturday.
The third party reporting on the issue however – Foxconn itself – has denied the accuracy of both reports and offers a rather tamer interpretation of last week’s events. While acknowledging what the company refers to as “disputes” occurring at the end of last week, Foxconn has state outright that there was no employee strike, no stoppage in assembly of any product and that no disruption occurred whatsoever.
Their official statement on the incident details small, personal clashes between production line workers which 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.”
Currently employing a staff-force totaling upwards of 190,000, the weekend’s unrest marks the latest in an endless line of controversial incidents and reports of unrest as Apple’s primary assembly partner.
According to the employee rights organization responsible for the first report, Foxconn employees were facing increasingly strict demands with regard to impossibly precise standards for iPhone 5 production, which saw margins of two-hundreds of a millimeter being considered unacceptable.
Apple is yet to pass comment on the incident or offer its own version of the events that took place over the weekend.