Foxconn 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."