When reports came out last week of a large-scale strike at a Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, some observers cast doubts on their accuracy. A new report in China Business Journal interviews Foxconn workers who say that up to 4,000 workers staged a protest October 6-7 by refusing to work overtime, and that violence broke out between some protesting workers and management. According to the report, workers were angered that they were not given the National Day holiday off and by a number of other grievances. New York-based China Labor Watch, which originally reported the strike, translated the China Business Journal report:
[Foxconn recruiter] Wang Chunpei received some phone calls and messages on October 6 from some workers on strike in the campus, requesting him not to employ new workers and to join the strike. Wang said there were three to four thousand workers that refused to work overtime. He told the reporter, until the night of October 6, there were still many people that protested by refusing to work. Until 12 AM, striking employees were “suppressed” by assistant security guards at Foxconn. Several workers who led the strike were forced to resign, and the line leader who first initiated the verbal conflict with workers “cannot work here any more”.
On October 6, Foxconn spokesperson Liu Kun told the media, “the labor union has been trying its best to communicate, and this situation has essentially calmed down.” However, he did not explain the specific causes of this strike.
After interviewing several Foxconn workers, this reporter learned that this conflict originated from the fact that the three-day break for the national holiday in Foxconn was not implemented in all production facilities. Some production facilities had no day off during the holiday, including some production lines in Area K (there are eight areas, including A, K, B, E, C, F, D, L, and Area K, F, and L are all assembling iPhones).
Other workers talked about excessive pressures they face to complete difficult tasks and work overtime due to a labor shortage at the facility. A Foxconn executive told the Examiner that the low supply of iPhone 5s is due to the challenges in building the product. In the same interview, he acknowledged an incident between workers and management at the Zhengzhou plant, where iPhone 5s are produced:
The iPhone 5 is being assembled at Foxconn plants in Zhengzhou and Guan Lan, China. Although Foxconn earlier denied any labor unrest at the Zhengzhou plant, the executive did mention the recent conflict between assembly line workers and quality inspectors in Zhengzhou last month.
That conflict was said to be due to new quality control procedures put in place to alleviate scratch problems with the iPhone 5’s aluminum casing. He added, “The Zhengzhou site, which was set up in 2011, is still pretty new to us. We are still learning how to manage the work force there.”
Read more about Foxconn via CDT.