Reports are emerging of a riot that broke out at Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities in Taiyuan early on Monday, but conflicting accounts have described it as either an altercation between security guards and workers or a fight between workers.
Engadget’s Richard Lai tracked posts on the Sina Weibo microblog and the Baidu Tieba forum on Monday (China Time) that appeared to indicate that a 2,000-person riot erupted after security guards hit a worker. The messages have since been deleted on the service, most likely by censors.
Foxconn said in a statement to Reuters that it is looking into the cause of the disturbance.
“The fight is over now … we’re still investigating the cause of the fight and the number of people involved,” the spokesman said, noting that the incident took place in the workers’ dormitories. The manufacturer plans to release a full statement later in the day.
It’s not immediately clear which facilities were affected. Foxconn’s facility in Taiyuan employs 79,000 workers and produces components for consumer electronics, automobiles and precision moldings. It’s possible that some of the workers involved were assigned to build Apple’s iPhone 5, as an undercover reporter documented an iPhone 5 production line at Taiyuan earlier this month.
Foxconn can confirm that a personal dispute between several employees escalated into an incident involving some 2,000 workers at approximately 11 pm last night in a privately-managed dormitory near our manufacturing facility in Taiyuan in Shanxi province. The dispute was brought under control by local police at approximately 3 am this morning. According to police, some 40 individuals were taken to the hospital for medical attention and a number of individuals were arrested. The cause of this dispute is under investigation by local authorities and we are working closely with them in this process, but it appears not to have been work-related. The Taiyuan facility employs 79,000 people and manufactures automobile electronic components, consumer electronic components and precision moldings.
Update 2: Techweb reports (via MissXQ) that at least 10 individuals have died from the riot. Unverified reports currently suggest that a fight broke out between workers from Shandong and Henan provinces before developing into a brawl that required police intervention.
Update 3: Foxconn has issued another statement denying reports of fatalities:
“We can confirm that there have been no employee deaths related to the incident which took place at an employee dormitory in Taiyuan last night. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate.”
(hat tip Sinocism)
Image via Baidu Tieba