In this 2010 file photo, workers assemble devices on a production line at… (Kin Cheung / Associated…)
Multiple iPhone 5 production lines were "in a state of paralysis" after as many as 4,000 workers walked off the job at a factory in China, according to a labor group.
A strike occurred at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou at 1 p.m. Beijing time Friday because workers were forced to work during a holiday, China Labor Watch said. The organization also reported that Foxconn raised demands on product quality without providing proper training, so workers turned out products that didn't meet standards; that "ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers."
Foxconn is Apple Inc.'s largest supplier and makes iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices at massive facilities that resemble small cities. The Taiwanese company has been criticized after reports of dangerous working conditions and suicides, and it was subject to a sweeping audit this year that was backed by Apple.
It was unclear whether the work stoppage would significantly affect iPhone 5 shipments. Apple didn't return a call or reply to an email seeking additional details and comment.
China Labor Watch said 3,000 to 4,000 people walked off the job, most of them workers from the on-site quality control line.
"It was reported that factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers," the group said. "On top of this, they were not permitted to have a vacation during the holiday. This combination of factors led to the strike."
Quality control inspectors were reportedly "beat up multiple times by workers" during several fights that led to hospitalizations, the organization said.
"When inspectors reported these issues to factory management, the management simply ignored and turned their back on the issue. For these reasons, all day and night shift inspectors carried out a work stoppage today that paralyzed the production lines," China Labor Watch said.
Late last month, a brawl involving about 2,000 workers broke out at a dormitory that houses Foxconn employees in China's Shanxi province. Forty people were taken to hospitals for medical attention and "a number" of individuals were arrested, Foxconn Technology Group said in a statement.
After the brawl, the company — also a supplier to other electronics giants including Dell Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. — temporarily stopped production at the facility in Taiyuan.
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