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40 injured after Foxconn China plant clashes

A destroyed electronic parking display at the north gate of the Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, yesterday, after rioting by its workers erupted on Sunday night. Sun Ruisheng/China Daily

Publication Date : 25-09-2012


Some 40 people were injured after clashes broke out at a Foxconn Technology Group plant dormitory in the northern city of Taiyuan, China, late Sunday, police said.

Workers at the factory, which employs about 79,000 people, told China Daily that the clashes erupted after the plant's security staff beat up a worker.

The company, which is a major Apple supplier and that has recently been shrouded in controversy over its working conditions, said that the incidents were not work related.

Workers said yesterday that the factory did not resume production that day, and that they did not know when they would work again.

Three workers were in serious condition after the incidents, while most of the other workers were only slightly injured, according to the initial investigation from the public security bureau of Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province.

Taiwan's Foxconn, which is also the world's largest electronics manufacturing company, said that a personal dispute between employees escalated into a more serious incident at about 11 p.m. on Sunday in a dormitory near its Taiyuan plant.

Taiyuan's public security bureau said that the incident involved 2,000 workers and attracted more than 10,000 local people, who went to the facilities to watch the fighting, and that it triggered chaos in the area surrounding the plant.

About 5,000 police officers were sent to the scene, and had the incident under control at 9 a.m. yesterday.

"According to the police, a number of individuals were arrested," Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo said yesterday.

"We are working closely with the police in this process, but it appears not to have been work related," Woo said.

According to the police's initial investigation, the fight broke out between workers from Shandong and Henan provinces.

Debris such as broken windows and destroyed cars could be seen around the plant after the clashes.

The workers said that previous incidents between fellow workers and security staff may also have led to the incident, due to simmering anger.

The company, which recently relocated its plants on coastal areas to inner provinces such as Henan province, has drawn criticism due to its harsh working conditions after a series of workers committed suicide about two years ago and several others were injured in work-related accidents.

Ji Feng, secretary-general of the Citygate Industrial Relations Forum, a nonprofit organisation based in Shenzhen, said the frequent reports of unrest or suicides at Foxconn also show the "uneasiness of the new generation of migrant workers".

He said that the members of the new generation, mostly born in the 1980s, feel isolated and discriminated against.

"They work hard but cannot realise their dreams, they cannot integrate," he said.

Ji believed that Foxconn has caught the public's attention mainly because it is an Apple supplier.

"In fact, working conditions in many medium and small factories are much worse," Ji said.

He said that Apple should pay more attention to the workers assembling its products in China, as the United States-based company has "an inescapable responsibility".

Foxconn, which assembles Apple's iPhones and makes components for top global electronics companies, has about 1 million employees on the Chinese mainland.


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