In the latest reminder of the harsh working conditions endured by those who make the gadgets the world loves, 3,000—4,000 workers at a Foxconn plant went on strike last week, according to China Labor Watch. Foxconn denied the report, saying that there had merely been two isolated "disputes" and that iPhone production had not been stopped.
The China Labor Watch report said the conflict was over impossibly-high work-quality standards and that it shut down iPhone production lines at the factory for a day.
Here's the statement from China Labor Watch:
(New York) China Labor Watch (CLW) announced that at 1:00PM on October 5 (Beijing time), a strike occurred at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory that, according to workers, involved three to four thousand production workers. In addition to demanding that workers work during the holiday, Foxconn raised overly strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills. This led to workers turning out products that did not meet standards and ultimately put a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. Additionally, quality control inspectors fell into to conflicts with workers and were beat up multiple times by workers. Factory management turned a deaf ear to complaints about these conflicts and took no corrective measures. The result of both of these circumstances was a widespread work stoppage on the factory floor among workers and inspectors.
The majority of workers who participated in this strike were workers from the OQC (onsite quality control) line. According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day.
Regardless of the specifics of this particular dispute, the working conditions and pay of those who make iPhones and other gadgets will likely become an increasingly contentious issue in the coming years, especially as Apple gets ever more profitable.
It is impossible to read the description of what it is actually like to work in one of those factories without feeling a major debt of gratitude to the millions of anonymous workers who help build such remarkable products.
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