Foxconn workers reportedly strike over iPhone quality demands

Workers at a key Foxconn facility producing iPhones went on strike earlier today, according to a report from a Chinese watchdog group.

Construction near Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou, China.
Construction near Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou, China. Jay Greene/CNET

Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 workers at one of Foxconn's factories in Zhengzhou, in China's Henan province, reportedly went on strike earlier today over what a watchdog group says were onerous demands on quality in producing Apple's iPhone 5.

In a news release, China Labor Watch says the workers, who mainly do quality control for the factory's production line, were asked by the company to improve the quality of their work to the point where production deadlines could no longer be met:

According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day. It was reported that factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard. This led to a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. On top of this, they were not permitted to have a vacation during the holiday. This combination of factors led to the strike.

Foxconn manufactures products for Apple as well as other technology companies including Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The company employs 1.1 million people. The reported incident is the latest worker-related action to affect production at one of its facilities. Last month a riot involving as many as 2,000 people broke out after an alleged altercation between a guard and a worker. The plant in question was shut down and reopened a day later.

The reported demands on quality could have been a reaction to widespread reports of cosmetic damage, found by early buyers of Apple's latest iPhone, which went on sale late last month. New iPhone 5 owners found nicks on the aluminum antenna bezel, and in some cases warping of the antenna band, despite the product being fresh out of the box. Apple has stayed quiet on the matter, short of a purported e-mail from marketing chief Phil Schiller to a customer saying "any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color," and that it was "normal."

CNET has contacted both Apple and Foxconn for more information and will update this post when we know more.

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