iPhone 5 factory shut after mass brawl leaves 40 workers injured

Sep 24, 2012

Chinese police called in to deal with thousands of workers fighting and rioting in dormitories

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A FACTORY that makes the iPhone 5 for Apple has been temporarily closed down after thousands of workers were involved in a fight last night.

The brawl broke out in the dormitory facilities of a plant in Tai Yuan, northern China, late on Sunday and left 40 people needing hospital treatment.

Police claim that 5,000 officers were dispatched to the scene and say it took four hours to bring it under control, reports Xinhua news agency. Several people were detained by police.

The firm that owns the factory, Foxconn, has been forced to close it down but says it should reopen tomorrow.

"The fight is over now… we're still investigating the cause of the fight and the number of workers involved," said a Foxconn spokesman, adding it was possible it involved "a couple of thousand workers".

The cause of the violence has not been identified but comments posted on Chinese internet bulletin boards said it might have erupted after a security guard hit an employee, says The Guardian.

The Tai Yuan plant, which employs about 79,000 workers, makes parts for and assembles Apple's new iPhone 5, released last week.

Photographs of the incident were uploaded to social networks, showing smashed windows, riot police and crowds of workers – but they were later deleted.

The riot came two weeks after an undercover journalist for the Shanghai Evening Post strongly criticised working conditions at the plant where 57 million iPhones are produced every year.

The journalist, who remains anonymous, claimed that his dormitory smelt like garbage, dirty sweat and foam. "Outside every room was fully piled up with uncleared trash. When I opened my wardrobe, lots of cockroaches crawl out from inside and the bed sheets that are being distributed to every new worker are full of dirt and ashes," they said, as quoted in the Daily Mail.

The journalist also complained of neck-ache and exhaustion, claiming to work non-stop from midnight to 6am. When another worker lay down for a short while, he was reportedly made to stand in a corner for ten minutes by a supervisor.

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