One thousand workers at Foxconn’s factory in Chengdu in southwestern China rioted on Monday night in a male dormitory. Want China Times reports that workers threw trash bins, paper, bottles and furniture after plant security arrived at the dormitory over concerns about a thief. The workers rioted for two hours and twelve were arrested by police, whom Foxconn had called in.
Want China Times suggests that some employees who had “grudges against the security officers” used a minor distubance as the impetus to address a number of “prior grievances.”
The Chengdu factory makes the LCD displays for a number of devices including Apple’s best-selling iPad. It also manufactures components for devices made by Sony, Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon and other companies.
As Tech Crunch says, some workers specifically “had remaining grievances” from an explosion that occurred at the Chengdu plant last May. Three workers were killed and eighteen injured in a horrific blast; Lai Xiaodong, an employee who died, suffered burns over 90 percent of his body. Seven months later, 59 workers were injured, 23 of whom had to be hospitalized, at a Shanghai plant that also made iPads.
Taiwan-based Foxconn, the largest electronic contract manufacturer in the world and one of China’s largest employers, described Monday’s incident as a “disagreement” and said that the incident occurred “after several of its workers from the plant had a disagreement with a restaurant owner,” says CNN.
Two Reports About Foxconn and Abuse of Workers’ Rights
In the past year, Foxconn has been repeatedly plagued with accusations of human rights and workers rights abuses, with numerous media reports (including an in-depth New York Times article) detailing inhumane working and living conditions and an increase in suicides.
In February, Foxconn increased workers’ wages by 25 percent and said that it would improve conditions.
Meanwhile, in March, an independent review by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) found violations in wages and overtime at three Chinese Foxconn factories that make Apple products. The FLA found that individual workers’ hours often “exceeded” 60 per week; Foxconn has responded that workers will not work more than 49 hours by July 1, 2013. While such changes may appease Western consumers, Foxconn workers themselves have not necessarily seen the reforms to be to their benefit as working fewer hours means they will earn less.
A Hong Kong-based workers’ rights group released another report in June that described ”long hours, low pay, humiliation and harassment” for Foxconn workers in factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou.
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Photo of Shenzhen factory via Wikimedia Commons