Report: Foxconn factory workers riot in China

Foxconn employees work on a production line in China making electronic goods including Apple's iPad.

Story highlights

  • As many as 1,000 Foxconn workers rioted in Chengdu on Monday, reports Taiwanese news site
  • Foxconn called the incident a "disagreement"
  • The company has been repeatedly been dogged by reports of alleged poor treatment of its employees

Workers at Foxconn, which makes products for companies including Apple, have rioted at an employee dormitory in China, a Taiwanese news site reported Thursday.

There are differing accounts of the Monday incident.

The Want China Times reported that as many as 1,000 Foxconn workers in Chengdu threw trash, chairs, bottles and destroyed public facilities in a fracas that lasted two hours. The clash broke out at a male dormitory for Foxconn employees after workers hindered security guards who were trying to stop an alleged thief, the website said.

Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer, described Monday's incident as a "disagreement." Local police were called to restore order, it said in a statement received by CNN.

A website affiliated with the publicity department of the Sichuan province, where the incident occurred, stated that the riot was triggered by a disagreement between seven Foxconn workers and a restaurant owner.

Foxconn is one of Apple's biggest manufacturing partners and employs hundreds of thousands of people in China to build popular electronic products like the iPhone and iPad. It has been repeatedly dogged by reports of alleged poor treatment of its employees including hazardous working conditions, harassment of workers and harsh living conditions.

Foxconn said events began after several of its workers from the plant had a disagreement with a restaurant owner in Chengdu. The disgruntled workers returned to their dormitory, "at which time a number of other residents also became involved in the disagreement and local police were called to the scene to restore order," the company added. The statement did not clarify with whom the workers had a conflict.

"Foxconn is cooperating with local law enforcement authorities on their investigation into this incident," the company stated.

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The company also noted that the dormitory where the incident occurred was "owned and managed by third-party companies."

A publicity website for the Sichuan province stated that seven Foxconn workers affected by alcohol argued with a restaurant owner and began damaging the restaurant, which was reported by the China Daily.

Police were called and the workers fled to their dormitory, shouting "They are beating us," which triggered the riot involving about 100 workers, according to the statement. The provincial government said that no one was injured during the incident.

In a contrasting report, the Taiwanese news site reported that the initial rioting workers had prior grievances with the security guards. Citing Molihua, a news advocacy website for human rights in China, it said dozens of employees were arrested.

In recent months, Foxconn has been under intense scrutiny over working conditions at its Chinese plants.

A report released in June by a Hong Kong-based labor rights group said Foxconn workers in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhengzhou were subjected to long hours, low pay, humiliation and harassment. Another report issued by the Fair Labor Association in May found numerous safety problems at the factories.

The company increased worker's wages by 25% in February as it pledged to improve conditions.

Foxconn first came under the spotlight in 2010 after a series of worker suicides. This prompted Chairman Terry Gou to make an unprecedented public apology. Foxconn then released a statement saying it had introduced counselors, started a 24-hour phone counseling service and opened a stress room where workers can take out their frustration on mannequins with bats.

Although Foxconn makes electronic goods for Sony, Microsoft, Nokia and other household brands, it is most recognized for producing Apple products.