A massive brawl at a Foxconn plant in northern China that makes some of the components for the Apple iPhone 5 prompted the overnight deployment of 5,000 police and forced the firm to halt production at the facility, it was reported by state-run media.
Forty people were injured in the melee involving around 2,000 workers in the city of Taiyuan, including three who are in serious condition.
At around 11 p.m. on Sunday, the fight broke out in Foxconn’s dormitory area, which drew more than 10,000 people who watched the events unfold before chaos broke out, state media reported. The incident was finally quelled by 9 a.m. on Monday.
Foxconn confirmed with the Reuters news agency that it closed down its plant on Monday following the incident.
“The plant is closed today for investigation,” Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo was quoted as saying.
In a statement, Foxconn said the brawl was started by several employees who had a dispute with one another, but comments posted on social media sites suggest that security guards may have instigated it.
A user on the Sina Weibo microblogging site said that around four or five security guards beat a worker nearly to death. Another user cited a friend, who said guards beat two workers from Henan Province after they failed to show their identification cards. In response, other workers set ablaze bed sheets and threw them out of their windows, according to the news agency.
An employee living in one of Foxconn’s dormitories told The Epoch Times that the incident started after about 2,000 employees were getting off a shift and “rushed toward the security guards and started hitting them” in retaliation for the violent treatment of their colleagues previously.
Another employee, identifying herself as Ms. Wang, said many of the employees were from Henan and Shandong Provinces, who were demanding an explanation from the security guards over the purported beatings.
When the guards attempted to disperse the crowd, the employees fought back, attracting more workers to join in or watch the fracas, Wang added.
Foxconn, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of components, has been under fire in recent years over poor labor conditions in its factories, which triggered suicides in the past. Earlier this year, a fight broke out at a Foxconn facility in Chengdu involving hundreds of workers.
Earlier this month, a reporter with the Shanghai Evening Post said he went undercover at the Taiyuan Foxconn plant, which apparently is the manufacturing site of components for the iPhone 5. The reporter described relatively harsh working conditions, including supervisors constantly yelling at employees during production lines and forcing them to work overtime.
“The whole dormitory smelled like garbage when I walked in. It smelled like a mix of overnight garbage and dirty sweat and foam,” the reporter said, according to Micgadget, which translated the account of his story.
“Outside every room there were piles of trash. When I opened my wardrobe, lots of cockroaches crawl[ed] out from inside. The bedsheets that are being distributed to every new worker are full of [dirt] and ashes.”
An employee at the Taiyuan plant told Reuters that the facility is one of many that manufactures components for the iPhone 5.
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