APPLE MAKES PEACE? AS WORKERS RIOT IN CHINA!
Will Apple Inc. face Peace and lose profits as Chinese workers riot for human rights?
|Peace Maker News world wide|
Riot at Foxconn Apple's Factory Underscores Rift in China
By DAVID BARBOZA and KEITH BRADSHER
SHANGHAI — The images and video began to appear on Chinese social networking sites early Monday: buildings with shattered windows, overturned police cars, huge crowds of young people milling about in the dark and riot police in formation.
The online postings were from a disturbance late Sunday that shut down a manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in north China, where 79,000 workers were employed.
State-run news media said 5,000 police officers had to be called in to quell a riot that began as a dispute involving a group of workers and security guards at a factory dormitory.
The unrest was noteworthy because the factory site is managed by Foxconn Technology, one of the world’s biggest electronics manufacturers and an important supplier to companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.
A spokesman for Foxconn said the company was investigating the cause of the incident. But analysts say worker unrest in China has grown more common because workers are more aware of their rights, and yet have few outlets to challenge or negotiate with their employers.
When they do, though, the results can be ugly and, because of social media and the Web, almost instantly transmitted to the world in their rawest and most unfiltered form.
“At first it was a conflict between the security guards and some workers,” said a man who was reached by telephone after he posted images online. The man said he was a Foxconn employee. “But I think the real reason is they were frustrated with life.”
The company said that as many as 2,000 workers were involved in the incident but that it was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.”
Nonetheless, the plant was closed, the company said.
Foxconn, which is based in Taiwan and employs more than 1.1 million workers in China, declined to say whether the Taiyuan plant made products for the Apple iPhone 5, which went on sale last week. A spokesman said the factory supplied goods to many consumer electronics brands. An employee at the Taiyuan plant said iPhone components were made there.
Supply-chain experts say most Apple-related production takes place in other parts of China, particularly in the provinces of Sichuan, Guangdong and Henan.
Apple referred questions to Foxconn.
Labor unrest in Taiyuan, in northern China’s Shanxi Province, comes as strikes and other worker protests appear to be increasing in frequency this year compared with last year, said Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labor Bulletin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Hong Kong seeking collective bargaining and other protections for workers in mainland China.
Many of the protests this year appear to be related to the country’s economic slowdown, as employees demand the payment of overdue wages from financially struggling companies, or insist on compensation when money-losing factories in coastal provinces are closed and moved to lower-cost cities in the interior.
But the level of labor unrest in China this year has not yet matched 2010, when a surge in inflation sparked a wave of worker demands for higher pay, Mr. Crothall said.
The Taiyuan protest comes at a politically delicate time in China, with a Communist Party Congress expected in the coming weeks to anoint a new general secretary and a new slate of members for the country’s most powerful body, the Standing Committee of the Politburo.
The government has been tightening security ahead of the conclave through measures like restricting the issuance of visas and devoting considerable resources to watching and containing disturbances like the recent anti-Japanese demonstrations. (continued)
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