Foxconn Factory Riot Blamed On iPhone 5 Rush - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile // Mobile Devices

Foxconn Factory Riot Blamed On iPhone 5 Rush

Workers' advocates say Apple's shiny new gadget is being produced in unsafe conditions, sparking tensions between offshore assembly crews and guards.

Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
A labor group said Apple's rush to get the iPhone 5 to market is to blame for a melee between workers and security guards at a Chinese factory operated by Foxconn, an offshore outsourcer that builds gadgets on behalf of the U.S. tech giant.

"Whenever there are new products launched by Apple, consumers are thrilled," said Hong Kong-based Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), in a statement. "At the same time, workers are queuing up for the company bus and lining up to swipe their staff card at Foxconn, but without similar excitement."

Violence between plant workers and guards erupted Monday, forcing Foxconn to shutter the facility. Numerous injuries, but no fatalities, were reported. The company reopened the plant Tuesday, but has not commented on the cause of the brawl, nor has it confirmed whether the iPhone 5 is made at the facility, which is located in Taiyuan, about 320 miles Southwest of Beijing.

Another group, China Labor Watch, said the iPhone 5 is manufactured at Taiyuan, as well as at other Foxconn facilities.

SACOM, meanwhile, said working conditions at Foxconn have not improved, despite a pledge by Apple CEO Tim Cook to work with the contractor to ensure it is meeting fair labor standards. "When the peak season comes, they are tied to the production lines with just 1 day off in 13 working days, or no rest day at all in a month," said SACOM.

[ Don't miss an exclusive live chat with Zach Nelson, the CEO of NetSuite, one of the pioneers of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) movement. Learn more: Next Valley View: NetSuite, CitiGroup, And More. ]

SACOM said it based its report on interviews with current and former Foxconn workers. The group claimed that workers said they were forced to remain at their posts until production targets were met, even if it meant working longer than scheduled, without overtime pay.

It also reported other problems: "Foxconn and Apple have promised to offer two daily ergonomic breaks for workers, but SACOM found that most of the interviewees have not enjoyed the break at all," the group said. It also said workers on the assembly line lacks adequate protection from the noxious chemicals they work with. An Apple representative did not return a call seeking comment.

Apple on Monday said more than 5 million iPhone 5s were sold over the weekend, but analysts were expecting sales of between 8 million and 10 million units.

They blamed the shortfall on the fact that Apple did not deliver enough phones to retailers to meet demand. As of early Tuesday, websites for stores like Best Buy showed that the iPhone 5 was sold out across the country. Unlocked versions, meanwhile, were selling for $1,000 or more on eBay.

The iPhone 5 is available in white and silver, or black and slate. The contract price starts at $199 for the 16-GB model, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for the 64-GB model. It's officially supported on the AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless networks.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mack Knife
Mack Knife,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2012 | 4:29:41 PM
re: Foxconn Factory Riot Blamed On iPhone 5 Rush
Oh yeah, if your aluminum cased iPhone 5 scratches easily, that is normal, it is made out of aluminum. Could it have been made from a different material? Of course. Just buy an iPhone 6 because not only will the case be made from something else, like maybe compressed paper, but it will have an even smaller connector than the iPhone 5.

That way, your iPhone 6 will dissolve just before the iPhone 7 is released, saving you the hassle of selling it.
Mack Knife
Mack Knife,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2012 | 4:26:39 PM
re: Foxconn Factory Riot Blamed On iPhone 5 Rush
Were this any other product it would be banned because it causes so much harm. People get hurt making them, people get ripped off buying them and then the owners get robbed and it taken away from them.

Can you image the laughter in the Apple boardroom?
The State of Chatbots: Pandemic Edition
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  9/10/2020
Deloitte on Cloud, the Edge, and Enterprise Expectations
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/14/2020
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
Flash Poll