Following riots which shut down production for a day, Foxconn's factory in Taiyuan, China, is back online. Previously, Foxconn said that the riots began with a fight between two workers, but new reports suggest that an altercation between a harsh security guard and a line worker ignited the violence.
According to Computerworld, "company workers interviewed on Tuesday said the riot first started as a fight between only a few security guards and workers." The workers may have been recent transfers who came to Taiyuan to learn how to assemble the iPhone 5. The article added, "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."
The Washington Post reported, "Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said that it’s likely the Taiyuan plant makes at least some components for Apple products. But he said a shutdown should not have much effect on supply lines because of the way Foxconn spreads out its manufacturing."
PCMag's Stephanie Mlot recalled that these are not the first riots among Foxconn workers: "Another Chinese Foxconn plant was the site of a June clash with security staff. A fight broke out in a male dormitory at the Chengdu factory when guards tried to stop a thief and several employees thwarted those efforts. The situation escalated to include 1,000 workers throwing trash bins, chairs, pots, bottles, and fireworks, destroying public facilities."
In related news, DigiTimes reports that Foxconn is under tremendous pressure to find enough workers to keep up with iPhone 5 demand:
Although Foxconn has been aggressively shifting its production to inland China in hopes of resolving labor shortages, the issue continues to haunt the company's capacity, the market watchers noted.
Currently, Foxconn has more than 150,000 employees at its plants in Zhengzhou, China assigned to iPhone 5 production, the market watchers said.
To assist Foxconn in resolving its labor issue, in addition to help the company recruit workers, the government of Zhengzhou is also offering employment subsidies to attract workers, the market watchers added.