Riot at Foxconn factory in China blamed on harsh security guards

Sunday's riot targeted Foxconn security guards, according to workers

Foxconn workers are blaming company security guards for Sunday's unrest at a manufacturing facility in China, claiming that the mass riot was the result of an escalating brawl between assembly line workers and security guards.

The riot, which involved 2,000 workers, occurred at a Foxconn factory in the Chinese city of Taiyuan and sent 40 people to the hospital before it was quelled by local police. While Foxconn said the incident arose from a "personal dispute," without elaborating, company workers interviewed on Tuesday said the riot first started as a fight between only a few security guards and workers.

Although it's unclear what exactly sparked the fight, workers said it's well-known that Foxconn security guards are often domineering and aggressive toward assembly-line workers. The unrest also came as workers from Foxconn's other manufacturing facilities in China have been transferred to the Taiyuan facility to learn how to assemble Apple's iPhone 5.

These new transfers are less tolerant of Foxconn's security guards, explained a 20-year-old worker, who only wished to give his surname as Zhou. "I think some of these transfers were more extreme in their approach. The workers native to Taiyuan also probably couldn't take it any more with the guards," he said.

When Sunday's fight broke out, hundreds of workers from nearby dormitories came to watch as the crowd eventually erupted into a riot targeting company security guards. This led to destruction of cars and store windows on the Foxconn campus. "They were mainly after the security guards, but when they couldn't find them, the workers went off and smashed other things," Zhou said.

Foxconn's Taiyuan facility, which employs 79,000 people, closed on Monday as a result of the riot. But on Tuesday it reopened, and police cars and vans could be seen stationed on street corners in the area.

The Taiwanese company, which also counts Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo among its customers, has faced ongoing criticism for poor working conditions at its factories, with labor groups pointing to Sunday's riot as a symptom of employee mistreatment.

Workers interviewed on Tuesday offered mixed views of their own jobs. Some pointed to the wages as too low, with workers making around 2500 yuan (US$395) or more a month depending on the amount of overtime recorded. But others noted that Foxconn jobs were easy to obtain, with education requirements low for the positions offered.

"People come here because they can't find other work, and the pay here is not bad," said a 21-year-old Foxconn worker, surname Luo, who came to the factory after finishing college with nothing else to do. Luo now helps install microphones in iPhones.

Workers interviewed, however, seemed to be unanimous in their negative opinions of Foxconn's security guards. They allege the security guards will sometimes bully or berate employees for not following proper procedures. This can include smoking in non-smoking areas, forgetting to bring an ID card to pass the security checkpoint, or bringing friends onto the employee-only campus.

Foxconn did not respond to a request for comment on the alleged mistreatment of workers by security guards.

Despite the damage from Sunday's unrest, workers said there appeared to be no consequences for employees. A 23-year-old worker, who declined to give his name, noted that the security guards at the facility have been treating workers with more respect now.

"The attitudes of the security guards have improved," he said. "It's not quite as harsh."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?