Foxconn Closes Factory After Massive Brawl

Karson Yiu/ABC News(BEIJING) -- Foxconn Technology Group, owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., suspended production at one of its largest factories in northern China on Monday following a violent incident involving 2,000 workers.

Foxconn, a major supplier of electronic components to large U.S. companies including Apple and Microsoft, made a statement on the closing Sunday night:

“A personal dispute between several employees escalated into an incident involving 2,000 workers at approximately 11 p.m. last night in a privately managed dormitory near our manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in Shanxi province.”

Unconfirmed video online shows crowds, several hundred strong, in the streets, overturned cars and smashed windows.  China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that 5,000 police were dispatched to control the crowd. The video also shows large buses broadcasting via loudspeaker what appear to be messages to control the rioters.

Foxconn reported that at least 40 employees were sent to the hospital and a “number” of individuals were arrested after police arrived on the scene.  Social media postings suggest some members of the crowd may have inadvertently been critically injured when the crowd got out of control.

The Taiyuan factory employs approximately 79,000 workers.  It was recently the subject of an undercover report by the Chinese publication China Story.  According to the article, the facility produces a part of the casing for the iPhone 5 and employees are told they should feel “honor” for doing so.

But the same factory has come under criticism for poor labor practices, low wages and compulsory overtime.  Hong Kong media reported a similar incident of protest during a strike over a pay dispute last March.

After a string of suicides by Foxconn employees last year, the company has made an effort to improve working conditions.  Apple has been working in conjunction with Foxconn to achieve that.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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