Is Apple Partner Foxconn Really Back on Track?

A Chinese factory owned by Foxconn, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) main manufacturer, restarted production on Tuesday after being closed for a day following a worker riot. The cause of the brawl is still unclear, with Foxconn officials insisting it was sparked by a personal dispute while labor groups see issues related to worker angst. Almost 2,000 employees were involved in the incident at the Taiyuan facility in northern China, with 40 people reported to be injured.

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Labor activists said longer working hours and extra pressure related to the production of the iPhone 5 was a big cause for Monday’s incident. Other news reports cited workers complaining about the managers’ and guards’ treatment of them. ‘‘Foxconn, some supervisors, and security guards never respect us,’’ the employee, who asked not to be identified by name, told the Associated Press. ‘‘We all have this anger toward them and they (the workers) wanted to destroy things to release this anger.’’

The iPhone 5, which went on sale last week, already has a three- to four-week backlog of orders and labor activists say that has increased pressure on workers. ‘‘Because of the launch of the iPhone 5, the workload of workers suddenly surges,’’ Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour said in a report this month, adding that some employees had not had a day off in the previous 30 days. The group also said employees suffer ‘‘verbal and physical abuse’’ by the guards.

Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic goods, has faced criticism over the last few months over labor conditions in its several factories and the management’s treatment of workers, as well as salary and extra time concerns. Earlier this year, it raised the minimum pay and promised to limit work hours after an audit found employees were working more than 60 hours a week.

Foxconn employs about 1.2 million workers in factories that make products for Apple, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), among others.

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