“If 4,000 people go on strike at an iPhone factory in China, will anybody know it? That’s the question at the heart of an ongoing puzzle over whether, in fact, iPhone 5 production was shut down by a labor action in the northern Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Friday,” Adam Minter reports for Bloomberg. “For most of the world, the news broke on Oct. 5 when China Labor Watch, an influential New York-based workers’ rights group issued a press release claiming a strike had occurred at a plant producing iPhone 5s that ‘according to workers, involved three to four thousand production workers.’”

“Foxconn, Apple’s primary contractor and the owner of the factory where the alleged strike occurred, denied that anything more than several isolated incidents between workers and quality control personnel had occurred and insisted that iPhone 5 production would not be delayed,” Minter reports. “The lack of additional information is highly unusual: In contemporary China, it’s the rare brawl that isn’t recorded by somebody’s smartphone, while large-scale unrest is either accompanied or followed by a virtual data dump of accounts, photos and films. To be sure, Foxconn restricts the ability of its employees to carry phones into factories, but there’s no question that many Foxconn employees not only have smartphones (a brief perusal of Foxconn employees who tweet to Sina Weibo proves it), but also use them. A search for the origins of China Labor Watch’s report reveals that at least one person recorded the Oct. 5 events. His real name is unknown, but on Sina Weibo, China’s leading microblogging service, he goes by the handle Ye Fudao…”

Minter reports, “On Oct.5, after the second of Ye’s tweets, China Labor Watch issued its press release, with the headline, “3000 to 4000 workers strike at Foxconn’s China factory.” Ye’s photo of workers gathered at a bus stop was atop the release. China Labor Watch blacked out Ye’s contact details from the lower right-hand of the photo, though added a caption below the photo reading, ‘Ye Fudao/worker for Foxconn ZhengZhou.’ Even a cursory reading of the press release suggests that Ye’s contribution to it — willing or unwilling — extended beyond the photo… In the end, the fact that such a poorly sourced story has become a major news event tells us much more about how Foxconn and Apple are covered in the press than they do about conditions in the factories. Neither company should be viewed as a victim, but neither should their critics be granted a waiver on having to prove the truth of their claims.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We smell something Daisey-esque.

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