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Would Apple be hurt by a strike at Foxconn Brazil?

Workers at Foxconn's Brazil plant could strike next week, but such an action is unlikely to affect the supply of Apple products at this point.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Around 2,500 workers at Foxconn's plant in Jundiai in the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil could choose to strike on May 3 if management refuses to meet their demands.

Employees have been complaining of severe shortages in food and water and overcrowding on the buses used for transportation, according to the Journal de Jundia (English translation).

A director of the local union told the Journal that food has had to be sent in but that the quality is poor, and the lines to wait for a meal are long. Travel to work is also a problem for many.

"The number of employees grew, but the number of buses remains the same," the union director said. "Thus, many workers are forced to travel on foot."

At a union meeting Monday night, workers gave management ten days to resolve all the issues raised, or else they could go on strike May 3. Beyond sending a message to management, could a strike have a snowball effect and stall the supply of Apple products? Not likely.

Foxconn's facilities in Brazil still pale in comparison to its plants in China. Foxconn Brazil only recently started making iPhones and just a few months ago received the necessary tax incentives to kick off production of the iPad.

Hundreds of thousands of workers toil away at Foxconn's Chinese factories, while around 8,000 are employed in Brazil. And out of those, only 1,200 currently work on Apple products, Luis Carlos de Oliveira, vice president of the Metalworkers Union of Jundiai, recently told CNET. But de Oliveira expects the focus on Apple to increase, anticipating around 6,000 employees building Apple products by the middle of the year.

The problems at Foxconn Brazil seem reminiscent of the troubles stirred up at the manufacturer's China factories. However, the situation between the two countries is vastly different.

Despite their complaints over food, water, and transportation, the workers in Brazil have escaped the long overtime hours, lower wages, and other abuses faced by plant employees in China, according to de Oliveira. The union representing Brazilian workers seems adept at fighting for the rights of its members, including the right to go on strike.

Employees at Foxconn Brazil are set to meet later this week to reassess the situation and decide their next course of action.