Apple supplier in China halts factory after massive dormitory brawl
In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Published Monday, September 24, 2012 7:03AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 24, 2012 1:27PM EDT
Production has been temporarily suspended after a dormitory brawl involving as many as 5,000 police officers and 2,000 employees of an Apple supplier in China.
The fight erupted late Sunday night, at a privately run dormitory that's home to employees of a Foxconn Technology Group factory in the northern city of Taiyuan.
According to a report by the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, the fight attracted more than 10,000 onlookers as police struggled to restore order.
Both the company and police have said the clashes were not work-related.
The Associated Press reports that comments posted on Chinese-language Internet message boards indicate the fight was triggered after an employee was struck by a security guard.
Citing an official with the Taiyuan public security bureau, Xinhua reported, "the fight broke out as workers from Shandong province clashed with those from Henan province."
A further investigation into the cause of the brawl, which sent 40 people to hospitals for treatment, is already underway.
Accounts of how long the fighting continued vary, with the company saying it took four hours, and Xinhua reporting it took approximately 10.
On Monday, Foxconn said production at the factory would be halted for the rest of the day, before being brought back online Tuesday.
Foxconn, owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., makes products for a variety of leading technology companies, including Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.
It has declined to say what products are being assembled at the plant presently, but according to a Shanxi province website, the Foxconn facilities in Taiyuan are focused on magnesium alloy components for consumer electronics and automotive parts, heat conduction products, LED lighting products and mobile phone products.
According to a report leaked in August, the factory was involved in the production of the back casing for Apple's new iPhone 5.
Foxconn has come under fire in recent years as western consumers learned more about the conditions in which their outsourced gadgets are being produced.
Apple commissioned an independent audit of its Chinese suppliers after workers' complaints of low wages, long hours and poor working conditions were compounded by reports of suicides at Foxconn facilities, as well as a deadly explosion at an iPad assembly plant in Chengdu in May, 2011.
In light of the Fair Labor Association report, Foxconn subsequently changed both its employees' working hours and their minimum pay.
After the adjustment, the base monthly wage increased from the equivalent of US$245 to $285.
Foxconn employs more than 1 million people throughout mainland China, including nearly 80,000 at the Taiyuan plant.