Foxconn has confirmed that a large fight broke out last week at one of its Chinese campuses, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The brawl attracted between 300 and 400 workers, and injured at least 11.
The outlet says that the fight between two different groups initially broke out last Thursday after workers gathered to celebrate China’s Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, and saw workers wielding steel bars, batons and machetes…
The Journal’s Paul Mozur reports:
“The rapid escalation from a single dispute to a larger-scale confrontation shows the challenges faced by Foxconn as it seeks to manage hundreds of thousands of young workers. Labor activists argue that such quick escalations show the pressure many workers, who travel far from home to work long hours, are under at Foxconn plants. Others say that it is in part the result of the strict, military-style management of Foxconn’s facilities.
Managing such pressure at large production facilities presents a challenge for Foxconn, which has been under the microscope since a spate of suicides at its factories in 2009. The company has defended its conduct, but last year it agreed to change its labor practices after an outside audit of its Chinese factories found widespread breaches of work rules, including 60-hour workweeks and other health and safety violations.”
Mozur’s right. Last week’s brawl comes roughly a year after a similar fight broke out at one of Foxconn’s plants involving close to 2000 workers—both incidents followed long, stressful summers of product production ramp ups.
Photo of the brawl outside of Foxconn’s Yantai factory
Foxconn wouldn’t say much else about the cause of the fight, but it did note that it was of a “personal nature” and that it was cooperating with authorities as they perform their investigation. But others have a different opinion.
Labor experts attribute the recent rise in violence at China factories to a heightened unrest. They believe there has been a generational shift, and workers are now more savvy about their rights and more willing to stand up for them.
Foxconn produces products for a number of high profile tech companies including Nintendo and Amazon, and has been Apple’s largest manufacturing partner for several years.