As many as 4,000 workers at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China reportedly walked off the job late last week over unrealistic demands for iPhone 5 production quality control, according to New York-based labor rights group China Labor Watch. However, Foxconn officials have denied the existence of a large scale labor strike, insisting that there was only a minor disagreement with a few employees.
Workers at the Foxconn factory, one of two facilities struggling to meet international iPhone 5 demand, were reportedly given strict new quality control requirements for the production of Apple’s latest product. The workers claim they were not given proper instructions or training on how to meet these new quality standards, resulting in decreased productivity and increased production time that the workers were not compensated for.
In addition, workers were told that they were required to work through the national Golden Week Chinese holiday. The combination of these events reached a tipping point, and several thousand employees reportedly walked off the job. From The Guardian:
Thousands of workers at Foxconn in China have gone on strike over working conditions related to production of the iPhone 5.
Three to four thousand employees walked out of Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory on Friday, according to China Labor Watch. It said Foxconn and Apple had “raised overly strict demands on product quality” without providing adequate training.
Image of Foxconn employees purportedly walking off of the job (via Weibo).
In a statement provided Sunday, however, Foxconn officials denied the reports of a strike:
We can confirm that there were two disputes between a small group of production line workers and Quality Assurance personnel at our manufacturing facility in Zhengzhou, China on Oct. 1 and 2 but these incidents were isolated incidents. After we addressed the issues, people on the day shift resumed work, and there was basically no impact on the production lines.
A subsequent report by China’s state-run news agency, Xinhau, claimed that no more than 400 Foxconn employees initially failed to report for work as a result of the dispute, but that all of them were back at their posts within two hours.
China Labor Watch refutes Foxconn’s story, adding late Sunday that additional information shows that between three and four thousand workers eventually took place in the strike, and that the dispute lasted at least two days, with employees returning to work only after being informed by management that they would all be fired.
The exact details of what occurred last week at the Foxconn factory remain unknown, but both sides agree that employees are now back at work. Apple has remained silent on the situation, and has not responded to TMO’s, or any other news agency’s, request for comment.
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