Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company Foxconn says it plans to resume production at a large Chinese factory that the company closed in the wake of riots late Sunday night local time that injured dozens and resulted in arrests, according to a statement given by the company to CNET.
Foxconn, the world’s leading electronics supplier, which assembles many popular consumer gadgets sold in the U.S. including Apple’s iPhone and iPad and products made by Amazon, Dell, Microsoft and Samsung, told CNET that there had been no deaths but 40 hospitalizations as a result of the mass riot at factory in Taiyuan, China, contradicting earlier reports that claimed some workers had been killed.
Up to 2,000 workers were said to be involved, according to the company’s statements and other reports. Video reportedly documenting the incident and showing workers clashing with police was posted on YouTube, while photos were posted on social media websites and the blog M.I.C. Gadget.
“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,” Foxconn said in a statement provided to CNET.
Foxconn, alternatively referring to the riot as an “incident” and a “dispute,” also said in statements given to other U.S. media that the situation was caused by a personal conflict between several workers that spiraled out of control.
English-language state run news outlet China Daily also offered more details on what it said was the conflict that sparked the incident, painting it as both a regional conflict and the result of tensions between workers and security at the plant.
According to the police’s initial investigation, the fight broke out between workers from Shandong and Henan provinces…
The workers said that previous incidents between fellow workers and security staff may also have led to the incident, due to simmering anger…
Ji Feng, secretary-general of the Citygate Industrial Relations Forum, a nonprofit organization based in Shenzhen, said the frequent reports of unrest or suicides at Foxconn also show the “uneasiness of the new generation of migrant workers”.
He said that the members of the new generation, mostly born in the 1980s, feel isolated and discriminated against.
“They work hard but cannot realize their dreams, they cannot integrate,” he said.
The Taiyuan plant that was the site of the riot employed 79,000 workers, according to The New York Times, also noting that the same plant was the scene of a mass strike over wages in March 2011.
Chinese state news outlet Xinhua, quoting a local government official, reported that three of those injured were in serious condition. The news outlet also said that the riot drew 10,000 “spectators” and that 5,000 police were called to the scene and were able to bring it under control 10 hours after the fight erupted. But Xinhua’s report also noted that local government officials were denying that the plant ever halted its production schedule.
Unfortunately, this type of worker unrest is actually increasingly prevalent throughout China, with upwards of 90,000 incidents reported in 2011 according to a study from Nankai University, Vice’s Motherboard blog pointed out.
And while Foxconn has made headlines over the past two years as a results of its pivotal role in assembling Apple’s hit mobile devices, other, smaller factories may offer worse working and worker strife conditions, according to the Citygate Industrial Relations Forum, via China Daily.