Production of Apple’s new flagship smartphone is causing real problems at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory: quality control inspectors are getting beat up, and as a result they have gone on strike.
China Labor Watch reports that Foxconn has required its employees who are assembling the iPhone 5 to meet what it calls “overly strict” requirments on product quality without properly training the employees on how to meet them. These reportedly included meeting tolerances of 0.02mm, and preventing scratches to the annodized aluminum of the frame and back cover.
Apple asked for the stricter inspections after many buyers of the iPhone 5 reported that their new device arrived from the factory with scratches.
As a result, many devices in production were not meeting the QC standards. This put the workers into conflict with the quality control inspectors, so much so, that the workers began beating up the inspectors.
It didn’t help that this was happening while everyone was being required to work during Golden Week, which is traditionally a 3-day paid holiday.
In response, three to four thousand people from the OQC (onsite quality control) line went on strike. According to CLW, all day and night-shift inspectors were on strike Thursday night and Friday, bringing production of the iPhone 5 to a halt.
China’s state-run news agency Xinhua downplayed the issue somewhat, saying the strike lasted only an hour.
Foxconn itself says there was no strike at all. A statement from the company reads:
“Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate. There has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule.”
At this point, it is not clear what will happen with iPhone 5 production on Monday. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who have pre-ordered this smartphone and are waiting for it to be delivered — this device has been backordered since it debuted last month, and Apple says that orders placed today won’t ship for 3 -4 weeks. The wait may become longer if production doesn’t resume.