Foxconn strike halts iPhone 5 production

Thousands of employees reportedly walk out over forced holiday work, quality control demands

Manufacturing giant Foxconn is dealing with labor complaints again. According to workers' rights group China Labor Watch, up to 4,000 Foxconn employees went on strike across the manufacturing giant's facilities Friday afternoon, stopping iPhone 5 production lines at multiple locations.

The strike began when quality control inspectors refused to report for work. The group was upset that Foxconn required employees to work through the Oct. 1-8 holiday week in China at the same time it was tightening quality control standards. Citing information from a handful of Foxconn employees, China Labor Watch said that "overly strict demands on product quality" led to fights between workers and quality control inspectors when the production lines had trouble assembling iPhones that met the new standards.

The strike originated at Foxconn's Zhengshou factory, but spread to three other facilities. At the height of the strike, between 3,000 and 4,000 employees had joined in. The stoppage lasted until Saturday, when Foxconn said it would fire anyone who continued to be absent from work.

Foxconn employs over 1.1 million people in China and works for electronics giants such as Apple, Nintendo and Microsoft. This year has already seen Foxconn workers threaten mass suicides, riot, and riot some more.

In March, a US Fair Labor Association inspection of Foxconn facilities (conducted at the request of Apple) found "significant issues," including health and safety problems, long working hours, and workers missing required days off. At the time, Foxconn agreed to a number of changes to address concerns, including shortening work hours and improving worker representation.

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Latest comments (13)

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
I understand that Foxconn has some issues to work out (OK, a lot of issues) but am I reading right that the workers were upset they couldn't get a whole week off for a holiday?

A single day is one thing but a whole week?
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Selcuk Bor CEO & Founder, Symphony of Specters5 years ago
careful now Jim, you're sounding pretty ignorant here. Doesn't the Western culture take 1-2 weeks off for Christmas? In Thailand they take a week off to celebrate the new year. Being forced to work through Christmas would make a lot of us over here pretty upset as well. So yes, in China Oct 1-8th is a holiday week.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
In the US, you can request a week off (any week) so long as you have accrued enough Paid Time Off but we don't simply get Christmas week off. And many places don't allow holidays off even if you do have enough PTO.

Working on Christmas isn't that uncommon here.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Jim we have tons of federal holidays here though. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Christmas, etc and if you think there's a such thing as accrued paid time off in China you're way out of touch. It's also really insulting and ignorant of you to disregard another culture's holidays as being excessive and lazy. I know you probably didn't mean it like that, but it's how you are coming off.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Looks like this story needs an update. Not only was there no strike but work during that holiday period is volunteer only and comes with triple time pay according to Chinese law.

Nicholas, those are indeed holidays but few companies are required by law to take those days off. Wii Wal-mart send everybody home from Dec 23rd - 29th this year?

And my comment about PTO was in direct response to Selcuk's suggestion that Western cultures take 1-2 weeks off for had nothing to do with Chinese policy itself. Read the comments again carefully and you'll see what I'm referring to.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
So they work 60 hours weeks minimum for a pittance (Apple used the fact that they made sure Foxcon didn't force more than 60 hours in the iFactory as a plus point) and you don't think they might need a week off.
Even over here I've worked in places where legally voluntary is not the same as the company recognising it as such, in China do yo think if Foxcon decided they where working through, it matters that it legally is voluntary?
"You don't have to work next week, of course. We wouldn't force you, that's illegal. By the way, on an unrelated note, I don't think we need you any more as of next week. Unrelated you understand?"
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Daniel Mesonero Producer 5 years ago
The official holiday went from Oct. 1st-4th because the Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn festival overlapped this year. Most people would then work Saturday Sep. 29th in order to take Friday Oct. 5th off work. That would make it a full week.
Whether you believe workers deserve this time off or not, it is mandated by the Chinese labor laws.
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Raphael Honore Localization Assistant Manager, Blizzard Entertainment Europe5 years ago

Holiday system in China is very special. You only get 2-5 days of "free" vacation a year, and then everything else is decided by the government. We have 2 "golden" weeks a year where we indeed have 7-8 days off in a row, but we make up for it by working during week-ends before/after festivals, so in fact it only amounts to 3-4 days. All in all you don't get a whole lot of vacation over here, and working conditions for factory workers are usually extremely bad. Most of those guys are living in factory dorms at 6-8 per room, and go back home to see their families twice a year. Your comments are offending and shocking.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Raphael Honore on 9th October 2012 7:36am

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
And despite all this, people who think they can't live without them still HAVE to have those iThings. I say just get a damn library card, learn to read a real map and be creative without one of these toys on your own and see what happens (you'll save a few thousand dollars a year, for starters). Lots of people aren't deviced up the ass and still live fine and productive lives. Marketing works more than morality it seems.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters5 years ago
@Greg - Why are you even posting comments on the internet then? You don't need to do that. People lived without internet perfectly fine before. Consumers aren't the ones doing anything wrong here. Look at the profits Apple are raking in. They could divert a fraction of that profit without even noticing the difference to improve the lives of workers without changing the cost to the consumer by a penny.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
I think some of you are not looking at my comments in context of the story as it is presented.

Post #1: Acknowledged that Foxconn has problems. Questioned why they were upset over not being given a whole week of time off which is an unusual amount of time off for a large group of employees at once.

Post #2: A direct response to Selcuk Bor regarding US policy. Had nothing to do with China.

Post #3: An update regarding the validity of the story to start with. Acknowledgement of Chinese holiday laws. More US policy. And my pointing out that comment #2 was a response to Selcuk Bor about US policy, not China.

So I'd really appreciate it if people would look at the substance of my comments rather than just getting offended and hitting the reply button.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up5 years ago
Im still waiting on mine, they better get back to the coalface!! (that was humour for those who require it)

We see an article here about people not doing what they are told in a place where they generally do as they are told by the communist party (as far as we're lead to believe). If the plant was in a western country it wouldn't be news. Questions would get asked and answered in a way we are familiar with. Were not familiar with this or the country so why bother trying to answer it?

We all know working conditions in China generally amount to slavery in contrast to companies and employment terms in the west, but as long as you have anything in your house, in your hand or on your back that comes from such a place, then there's no moral high ground to take on any product or the conditions under which it was made. Probably worth checking your belongings before doing so. One day the people in China will come together and shape their own democratic future, but it'll take time. My advice is f you don't like it, don't buy it.

On the other hand, I'm happy to wait an extra week or two if it means they get to make a stand and make some progress for some rights and better treatment in the future.
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Raphael Honore Localization Assistant Manager, Blizzard Entertainment Europe5 years ago
Foxconn factories employees know very well they are in the spotlight compared to the gazillion other factories in mainland China, and that's the reason they dare to go on strike and fight for their rights. In a country where even unions are, in fact, extensions of the big red eye of the CCP in the corporate world, it still takes a lot of courage to do this.
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