For many it would come as no surprise that Apple would be sold out of it latest smartphone – the iPhone 5. More than 5 million were sold since the iPhone 5 hit the store shelves, and analysts were concerned that Apple would be not able to keep up fast enough to meet demands. A person would have to be 6 feet under not to notice the on-going legal battles of the worlds most valuable tech company, let alone the treatment and working conditions of employees at the Foxconn plant that assembles the iPhones.
On early Monday morning about 2,000 Chinese employees, exploded into a massive brawl, and forcing the huge electronics plant in the northern city of Taiyuan.to be shutdown. The Taiwanese owners of the Foxconn Technology Group, stated that the riot had started following a personal dispute, in a dormitory, and that will be working closely with local authorities to investigate Foxonn employee, Hon Hai stated that the massive brawl did not appear to be work related.
About 79,000 workers are employed at the factory, and is owned by the world's largest contract maker of electronic goods. Easy to recall the accusations for the mistreatment of workers from earlier this year, for workers in the Foxconn plants where the Apple iPhones are assembled., along with the manufacture of other components.
Authorities sent 5,000 police to restore order to the massive brawl, yielding riot shields, helmets and batons. Foxconn had stated that the outburst had started in a privately managed dormitory about 11PM on Sunday and brought under control around 3 AM on Monday morning.
Workers clean up glass shards from the broken windows of a security room near paramilitary police vehicles parked near an entrance of a Foxconn Tech-Industry Park in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, September 24, 2012.
“Comments posted online, however, suggested security guards may have been to blame. In a posting on the Chinese Twitter-like microblog site Sina Weibo, user "Jo-Liang" said that four or five security guards beat a worker almost to death.”
Reuters had reported the Taiyuan city government initially determined that :the fight broke out as workers from Shandong Province clashed with workers from Henan. Apparently calls to police went unanswered, while a Foxconn official at the plant declined to comment when reached by phone.
Geoff Crothall, communication director at China Labour Bulletin, a labour rights group in Hong Kong, said in a statement, "Clearly there is deep-seated frustration and anger among the employees and no outlet, apart from violence, for that frustration to be released,” and continues "There is no dialogue and no means of resolving disputes, no matter how minor. So it is not surprising when such disputes escalate into violence."
Even though Foxconn had touted at times that it has been increasing employees wages and improving working conditions in recent months, Foxconn did not confirm which of it plants actually supply Apple, but an employee did tell the Reuters reporters that the Taiyuan plant is among those that assemble and make parts for Apple's iPhone 5.
Apple expected that most of the new smartphone would be available next month, and the iPhone is Apple's highest profit margin product and also accounts for half of it annual revenues.
The plant is expected to be closed for 2-3 days pending investigation.