A worker removes glass shards from the broken windows of a security room near the entrance to the Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, central China, on Monday. (Reuters)
Sept. 24: 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 today after police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.
The company said several people were hospitalised and detained by the police after the disturbance, which occurred late yesterday, 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 labour conditions at its China factories following reports about labour abuse and work safety violations.
Apple and Foxconn have worked together in the last year to improve conditions, raise pay and improve labour standards.
Disturbances at factories have become increasingly common in China, rights groups say, as labourers have begun to demand higher pay and better conditions.
Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labour Bulletin, a non-profit 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.