The employees at Foxconn in its Taiyuan factory are currently working under police watch, after a riot temporarily shut down its operations on Monday.
Local authorities are still investigating the cause of the brawl involving two thousand workers, which left more than 40 people in the hospital. The windows of an arcade, bathhouse, supermarket, and cars parked near the dormitory were smashed. According to workers, the scuffle in the dormitory escalated when the security guards hired by independent contractors responded with tremendous force.
A twitter message sent by a user “Jo-Liang” said four or five security guards excessively beat a worker almost to death. Another user, Fan de Sa Hai, sent a message that security guards beat two workers from Henan province. According to the report from Xinhua news agency, workers from Shandong and Henan province started the fight.
According to the report from Bloomberg, security teams wearing riot helmets and wielding plastic shields are currently guarding the factory, which employs more than 79,000 employees.
The report cited a comment from Fang Zhingyang, a 23-years old Foxconn worker, that Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354)’s guards use gangster style management of the security of the plant. Zhingyang said, “The guards here use gangster style to manage. We are not against following rules but you have to tell us why. They won’t explain things and we feel like we cannot communicate with them.”
Another worker described the guards as “fierce.” Bloomberg reported that a woman guard assigned at the south gate of the plant shouted at a reporter interviewing one of the workers. The woman guard prohibited the reporter from staying outside the gate, emphasizing that it is Foxconn property, and directed him to go to the other side of the street.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Foxconn’s spokesperson, Louis Woo, said he doesn’t have knowledge about the workers accusations against the security guards. According to him, “If there’s any truth to these allegations, we’ll take severe action against any security guards, even though we don’t hire them directly.”
Geoffrey Crothall, director of human rights group, China Labor Bulletin, said factory workers at Foxconn do not have any positive feedback about security guards in China. According to him, the training for security guards is minimal, independent contractors hire en masse, with a few requirements.
Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) workers also complained about the bad working conditions in Foxconn plants. Dormitories are crowded and noisy. The food is low quality and the sanitation is poor.
Terry Gou, Chairman of Foxconn Technology, tried to improve the conditions of the company’s employees in his factories, after Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) pushed for changes following reports of suicides. Apple is Foxconn’s largest client.
Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) has more than 1.2 million workers from different countries. It is the main supplier of Apple’s iPad and iPhone products. The company also manufactures the PlayStation game console and TVs for Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE), and the Wii console for Nintendo Co., Ltd (ADR) (PINK:NTDOY).