World Bulletin/News Desk
Thousands of workers went on strike Friday at a Foxconn plant in China that makes Apple Inc's iPhone 5, paralyzing production of the smartphone, rights advocate China Labor Watch reported.
The reported strike comes at a crucial time for the U.S. corporation, weeks after kicking off its largest-ever global rollout of the smartphone. Apple is already struggling with supply constraints, analysts say.
Citing workers, the labor group said 3,000 to 4,000 workers began their strike at Foxconn's Zhengzhou complex in the afternoon, incensed by over-exacting quality controls as well as demands they work through the week-long "Golden Week" holidays, which began Monday.
Foxconn, the Taiwanese made-to-order electronics giant that assembles Apple Inc's products, denied reports that a plant in China was crippled by a strike, saying on Saturday that its production is on schedule at an important time for Apple.
Foxconn Technology Group, which has its headquarters in Taiwan, denied the report and said the plant suffered only two brief and small disputes several days earlier.
"Any reports that there has been an employee strike are inaccurate," the company said in an emailed statement, adding that "there has been no workplace stoppage in that facility or any other Foxconn facility and production has continued on schedule."
Tensions have boiled over repeatedly in factories operated by Foxconn, the Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant that employs more than a million and makes most of the world's iPads and iPhones. Last month, thousands rioted at its Taiyuan facility in northern China, disrupting production for about 24 hours and underscoring the potential for labor unrest.
"In addition to demanding that workers work during the holiday, Foxconn raised overly strict demands on product quality without providing worker training for the corresponding skills," the Watch said in a statement on its website ().
"Additionally, quality control inspectors fell into conflicts with workers and were beat up multiple times by workers. Factory management turned a deaf ear to complaints about these conflicts and took no corrective measures."
The group did not say in its release when work might resume.
Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is the world's largest contract maker of electronics for global brands such as Hewlett Packard Co, Nokia and Dell Inc.
Apple and Foxconn have come under fire for poor working conditions and wages at plants across China. In response, they have organized an audit of factory conditions, raised wages, improved safety and reduced overtime, among other measures.