At Foxconn’s Taiyuan plant in Northern China about 2,000 workers were involved in a massive brawl, leaving 40 of them injured and requiring hospital treatment. The police were called in late last night to break up the fight and arrest a number of people. The incident ignited in one of the factory dormitories, not the factory production area, however the violence seems to have spilled out onto nearby streets, with shop windows smashed and police vehicles overturned. Sources say the brawl was caused by a personal dispute rather than anything to do with the factory management.
Poor working conditions and labour relations in Foxconn factories have been the subject of many previous news reports. The Foxconn factories also became notorious for suicides. However Foxconn issued a statement saying “The cause of this dispute is under investigation by local authorities and we are working closely with them in this process, but it appears not to have been work-related.” The plant in question employs a total of about 79,000 workers making various electronic parts and precision mouldings. The output of this factory does include parts and assembly of the Apple iPhone 5.
There are a number of on the scene videos available but as it was a night time incident, the video action is pretty dark and indistinct, taken I assume with some kind of mobile phone. It would have been interesting if two bystanders videoed the incident side by side, one using an iPhone 5 and another the Nokia Lumia 920. Perhaps next time.
The incident was fully under control by 9am thanks to the presence of 5,000 police officers and paramilitaries. Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo told Reuters that “The plant is closed today for investigation”. The investigation and closure may last up to three days according to an unnamed factory worker. Throughout China Foxconn operates many factories and has an estimated 1 million employees.