One thing seems to be certain: thousands of Foxconn workers at a plant in Zhengzhou, China reportedly walked out October 5 over increased job demands during the production of the iPhone 5.
According to the New York-based China Labor Watch (CLW):
“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.”
One consequence of the increased pressure was a series of physical fights between line workers and quality control inspectors. As a result, the inspectors walked off the job as well.
While China Labor Watch said that three to four thousand workers left, Foxconn claimed that the number was only a few hundred and that is was not a strike. Furthermore, Foxconn, speaking to the Chinese news agency, Xinhau, said workers were only gone for a few hours.
What is certain is that Apple is experiencing a shortage of the highly popular new iPhone 5, and that Foxconn and other suppliers are demanding increased production. Regardless of the numbers and severity of the October 5 action, workers one the production lines are under terrific strain.
Until Chinese workers – indeed all workers – have fair and adequate union representation, angry conflicts are all but inevitable.
3000 to 4000 workers strike at Foxconn’s China factory (China Labor Watch, Oct. 5, 2012)
Thousands of Foxconn Employees Strike Over iPhone 5 Production (Mac Observer, Oct. 8, 2012)