New York Times: Foxconn Factory in China Is Closed After Worker Riot

China Labour Bulletin is quoted in the following article. Copyright remains with the original publisher.

Published: September 23, 2012

Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to some of the world’s electronics giants, including Apple, said that it had closed one of its large Chinese plants early Monday after police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.

The company said several people were hospitalized and detained by the police after the disturbance, which occurred late Sunday, escalated into a riot.

Unconfirmed photographs and video that was circulated on social networking sites purporting to be from the factory showed smashed windows, riot police and large groups of workers milling about. The Foxconn plant, in the city of Taiyuan, in central China, employs about 79,000 workers.

A Foxconn spokesman declined to specify whether the Taiyuan facility made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week, but he said that it supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands. Foxconn said it employed about 1.1 million workers in China.

The disturbance is the latest to hit Foxconn, a key supplier of products to Apple and other global electronics companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft.

Foxconn, which is part of the Hon Hai Group of Taiwan, has been struggling to improve labor conditions at its China factories following reports about labor abuse and work safety violations.

Apple and Foxconn have worked together in the last year to improve conditions, raise pay and improve labor standards.

Disturbances at factories have become increasingly common in China, rights groups say, as laborers have begun to demand higher pay and better conditions.

Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labour Bulletin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other protections for workers in mainland China, said workers in China had become increasingly emboldened.

“They’re more willing to stand up for their rights, to stand up to injustice,” he said.

The same Taiyuan factory was the site of a brief strike during a pay dispute last March, Hong Kong media reported then.

Social media postings suggested that some injuries might have occurred when people were trampled in crowds of protesters.

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