Pictures of buildings with shattered windows, overturned police cars, and crowds of young people milling about in the dark flashed out on social media in China at the weekend after a disturbance shut down the giant Foxconn factory in Taiyuan in north China, where 79,000 workers are employed, reportedly working on iPhones among other things.
State-run news media said 5,000 police quelled a riot that began as a dispute involving a group of workers and security guards at a dormitory at the factory which supplies Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. A spokesman for Foxconn said the company was investigating the cause of the incident.
A Foxconn employee, reached by phone after he posted images online, told the New York Times, “At first it was a conflict between the security guards and some workers. But I think the real reason is they were frustrated with life.”
The company said as many as 2,000 workers were involved . It was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” But the decision was taken to close the plant , the company said. Although Apple did not confirm it, workers said work on iPhones took place there.
Foxconn, part of Hon Hai Group of Taiwan, has been trying to improve labour conditions at its Chinese factories. Apple and Foxconn have worked together to improve conditions, raise pay and improve labour standards, after the Fair Labour Association, a monitoring group invited by Apple to investigate conditions, found widespread problems.