More trouble at the Chinese factory where the incredibly popular iPhone 5 is assembled. Several media outlets are reporting that as many as 4,000 workers walked off the job this weekend in a massive strike that may have lasted as long as two days.
If you're still waiting on the iPhone 5 you already ordered, this is not good news. There are only two factories that assemble the iPhone 5, and production at these plants has been halted twice in the last two weeks over a riot and now a reported strike.
Bloomberg reports that iPhone 5 assembly workers went on strike Friday at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China, where the iPhone 5 is assembled. Most employees are now back on the job. The workers reportedly went on strike over unrealistically strict new production demands and being forced to work mandatory shifts during the Chinese holiday Golden Week. There have long been reports of workers forced into shifts of longer than 12 hours at Foxconn factories, and physical abuse from factory guards directed toward workers who do not meet production quotas.
iPhone 5 assembly workers rioted last week over poor conditions at a separate Foxconn factory in Taiyuan, China.
Foxconn denies that any strike ever happened. Inconveniently for them, MacObserver has a photo of the iPhone assembly workers walking off the job.
The Foxconn company and the Chinese government both are particularly hush-hush about any unflattering matters, so details of the strike are scarce and unreliable. But allegations made by the human rights group China Labor Watch have been confirmed by outside media organizations.
China Labor Watch notes that the Foxconn factory had raised quality control standards to prevent scratches on the casings of the iPhone 5. Assembly workers had trouble meeting the new standards, and had not been given any additional training. "With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard," China Labor Watch reports. "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."
The factory production of the iPhone 5 is meant to work as a non-stop, 24/7 assembly line. Any stoppage whatsoever would make production fall behind schedule. The issue of scratches on the iPhone 5 casing had reportedly led to conflicts—and even physical violence—between Foxconn's production teams and quality control teams.
The strike has apparently been resolved—because everyone on strike was threatened with immediate firing. Those who returned to work kept their jobs. Anyone remaining on strike was fired.
This may provide a little food for thought as you wonder why it's taking so long for your cool new iPhone 5 to arrive.