Foxconn’s iPhone 5 factory workers strike over high quality demands and holiday working [Updated]

Foxconn’s iPhone 5 factory workers strike over high quality demands and holiday workingFoxconn workers at its Zhengzhou factory supposedly held a strike yesterday involving three to four thousand iPhone 5 production line workers. The strike was apparently called because workers were unhappy with being asked to work during holidays and overly strict demands on product quality without necessary training; the news comes from a report by China Labor Watch.

The majority of workers who participated in this strike were workers from the OQC (onsite quality control) line. According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day. It was reported that factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard. This led to a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. On top of this, they were not permitted to have a vacation during the holiday. This combination of factors led to the strike.

We have heard wide spread reports of iPhone 5 models arriving with chips and scuffs in the anodized aluminum band and back panel so maybe this explains the increase in quality control measures at this particular factory. While Phil Schiller reportedly tells us that scratches and chips are normal for any aluminum product, having it arrive like that is certainly not normal or acceptable. Let’s hope that Foxconn can get this under control quickly and ease the stress on its workers through training and better production techniques rather than putting undue pressure on its workers.

Update: Foxconn has issued a statement denying the strike. From Reuters:

"Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate," the company said in an emailed statement, adding that "there has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule".

Foxconn said the quarrels happened on October 1-2, and were "immediately addressed and measures taken, including providing additional staff for the lines in question."

Source: China Labor Watch, Reuters

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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There are 36 comments. Add yours.

Goodeye says:

I think a iPhone 5 shortage coming if this goes on. However i can also see Apple maybe backing down a bit with their demands and things going right back the way they came.

I dunno about you guys I would easily pay more for my iPhone if it meant they had better working conditions there.

dalvik says:

Like how much more? $1000 $1200? Just curious to find out.

9thWonder says:

i'm all for working conditions. but i'm not paying more then i can afford. The truth though is if that means workers get a living wage an i can't afford an iphone fine. I can live with that. It's just a phone. I'll survive. i didn't get an iphone 5. It's not the end all and be all.

Or maybe the companies will simply have to take less ridiculously larger profits in order to maintain their items at a price point. I mean apple's got a war chest. I sometimes wonder when i see these things if the company wouldn't be stronger by spreading that out among the lower rungs of there system. pay more to foxconn and make them pay more to workers of move on to different manufactures.

Rolf says:

Foxconn already pays some of the highest wages for factory workers in china. People are lining up to work for them. If they don't need to pay Foxconn more, they won't. Businesses typically don't do things out of the kindness of their hearts.

shathis says:

as for working conditions, look at the picture. Sheesh....

stewm says:

That's okay, what's another couple of days on their delivery times. Though these chinese workers had better watch out, I am sure there must be another up and coming country somewhere in the world where Foxconn can move their factories and get lots of people to work for a pittance.

rbf1337 says:

Although I do own an iPhone, I'd be more inclined to support Apple as a whole if they actually manufactured products in the US instead of shipping jobs to china to save on labor costs.

chicagokilla says:

Apparently Foxconn is denying this ever happened.

Foxconn Technology Group said Saturday that production at its central Chinese factory that makes Apple's iPhones was continuing without interruption, denying a labor watch group's report that thousands of workers at the plant had gone on strike.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iwxdQebOM7t_BHyPhANqAl...

PilotPhil81 says:

If they don't like it, maybe they should go to the factory that slaps together cheap plastic Samsung phones. There is no quality control there.

walkingsad says:

you know they probably want to, Samsung is better at treating its slave labor then apple.

demontooth says:

Stop calling plastic cheap. I'd rather have a device I carry with me all the time 6 feet off the ground made of plastic so when/if I drop it it has a better chance of surviving.

iphonefizzle says:

obviously you did not see all of the video's on youtube comparing the samsung galaxy s3 to the iphone 5 dropping from the same distance pocket, elbow, and face and all three the samsung broke up and the iphone didn't so ummm yeah plastic cheap and sucks ....

shathis says:

You're eight feet tall?

badMojo69 says:

Keep supporting the sweat shop overseers.
Someone get me Darth Vader...that will show those lazy workers.
We must have our pristine products at all cost.

I honestly think I'm going to boycott apple until they stop this madness. Maybe they should think about opening plants in America...hmmmmm

Macboy74 says:

Where do you think your tv, parts for your car and pretty much everything in your home is made? America Get real man everything is made in sweat shops overseas if you are going to boycott Apple why not boycott others?

iphonefizzle says:

why are people blamming apple china has its own labor laws we in the USA cannot tell them to change something some folks are just as smart as a box of chocolates really i am going to boycott apple .... last i checked if you don't like your job leave has anyone worked a crap job over here try working at the big walmarts and targets during the holiday season yeah slave labor they make you work like crazy and if you don't like it have a great day so i am tired of folks tripping over what happens in other countries fix you home first geesh samsung also uses foxcomm its not just apple ..

FiveTimer48 says:

Well, because of the high demand for Apple products, there is no way for them to build their devices here in the USA unless they start constructing them sooner. We cannot even consider building that amount of devices that quickly.

shathis says:

Hate to tell you but the quality would be no higher, either. Probably less so. Nothing makes the build quality of an American product any higher than anywhere else.

mjs416 says:

Welcome to organized labor China. You can pay crap and run them into the ground and reap that for a certain period of time - eventually the workers will get sick of it. Enjoy the birth of communist china unions!

LCW says:

the decline might be near... time to find another mfg'ing location...

rpn0728 says:

Remember that multi-millionaire athletes in the US also strike over their horrendous working conditions. They have to spend time away from their families, do their job to exacting standards, and work holidays. It's never enough. This has little to do specifically with China, Foxconn, or Apple. There are lazy and greedy people everywhere, China included.

PilotPhil81 says:

This is one of the many reasons I don't like, or watch sports.

9thWonder says:

a ridiculous over simplification of sports labor disputes. One, all athletes aren't multimillionaires especially in the NFL where they make the lowest wages of the major pro sports. the 2011 nfl minimum salary is $390,000 not multimillions. And even so none of the athlete multimillionaires or not don't ever because conditions are "horrendous." They strike because they have leverage. Because they want a change to their conditions, maybe the freedom to negotiate hire wages that comes with free agency, maybe better retirement in the form of better pensions, maybe a raise to the rookie cap so players at the bottom get more, or maybe just a general share of revenue. And they don't always strike. They are often locked out like the NFL officials were. Hell the NBA and NFL all had lockouts. The leagues don't make any of that money without the players. I sure as hell don't show up to see any owner or executive or tv announcer. They deserve money and none of them are ever claiming things are "horrendous." That doesn't mean they don't deserve a larger share of the pie they are responsible for. Greed? I laugh. They earned it.

Brandon M. says:

Seriously? Professional athletes are way overpaid.. The average salary in the NFL is 1.9 million per year. I honestly think they should be paid more reasonably and maybe they won't be cry baby's and think they are entitled to millions of dollars. For example, the highest paid athlete in the CFL makes 500,000 dollars, most don't even make that.

shathis says:

Either the athletes, the people who got the butts in seats get the money, or the greedy owners do. Sorry, the money comes from somewhere... it exists, and therefore who brings in the dollars gets them. CFL doesn't have many fans because it's not as popular and doesn't sell as much merchandise. It's just numbers, sorry your country is small.

iphonefizzle says:

i'm sorry did you say min salary 390,000 yeah thats really under paid i know a guy that works with me that makes well um 27,000 a year with holiday over time he might gross an additional 10,000 and of that taxes might be 4,000 of that OT money yeah those athletes are so under paid compared to the guy at target now thats a big money roller right there... 9th wonder you sound liken an idiot give or take that nfl min salary will have the dude being a millionaire in 3 years vs gregg at target in about 50 years whoooooo so underpaid....

SoggyTempura says:

I don't understand the report. What is so different about the iPhone 5 over the previous models that is so difficult for these workers to make? I don't recall damage occurring out of the box on any previous models. It sounds like the Chinese labor probably got lazy. My iPhone 5 did have damage out of the box. My iPad 3 did too. This is certainly unusual over compared to the past.

To others - the US is not a nation of mass production. Other nations have the resources to make large quantities of product. An Apple factory in the US would flop for two reasons. First - there simply isn't the man power to manufacture in mass. Two unions would destroy any profit that Apple currently obtains while potentially increasing costs to consumers, as is standard of unions. One just has to look at the cost of cars. This is a global economy. Get over it.

badMojo69 says:

BS they don't have to let unions in and with all the people out of work here I'm sure there are more than enough willing bodies to fill an apple plant.

So the precious phone goes up $50 it's a small price to pay for made in the USA!

SoggyTempura says:

It's not BS, it's economics. Every country has its strengths in global trade. The strength of the United States is not mass production. The unemployment has nothing to do with that. There is more to mass production than just the human resource. Other factors such as the cost of parts for import, access to those parts, etc. No factory in the United States can compete with international ones on this kind if production. There is a major reason nearly every majorly company uses overseas factories besides cost savings. For example, in one year, China produces 14.5 million vehicles. USA (6th in the world,btw) products just under 3 million. Cars are far more complicated to produce than iPhones, so you guestimate the outcome of trying to duplicate that if it was in the US.

http://www.worldometers.info/cars/

badMojo69 says:

And this is why those companies should not get huge tax breaks for that crap.
By the way what kind of economy to you think this country had up until the 90s when we switched to a service baised one?

SoggyTempura says:

Tax breaks has nothing to do with economic strength of a nation. It's because of a global economy that we enjoy everything we do today at low prices.

shathis says:

Actually it was way before the 90s... and look at how bad workers rights were before the 70s... and further back.

dmackdaddy says:

Foxconn denies strike at iPhone 5 factory, says handset production on schedule http://bit.ly/QFdTOJ $AAPL

rustymini says:

China is a Communist country. I don't trust any news that comes out of a country like that.......the Foxconn workers probably did try or had a strike,but it was quickly stopped and threats made towards the workers. Apple has virtually no control in that respect.......