Did Chinese iPhone assemblers really go on strike?

“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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Foxconn Labor disputes said to disrupt iPhone production for 2nd time – October 9, 2012
Foxconn denies plant strike report; Apple shares down with many U.S. stocks – October 8, 2012
Foxconn: No strike at China iPhone plant; production remains on schedule – October 6, 2012

Liar Mike Daisey blasts Mossberg, Swisher over Tim Cook interview – May 31, 2012
Foxconn workers talk about jobs, working conditions assembling iPhones and iPads – May 5, 2012
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Apple supplier Foxconn cuts working hours; workers worry, question why – March 30, 2012
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Change.org petition calls for Change.org to retract petition against Apple; says based on Mike Daisey’s lies – March 21, 2012
Foxconn won’t take legal action against ‘This American Life’ after retraction of Mike Daisey lies – March 19, 2012
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‘This American Life’ retracts story, says it can’t vouch for the truth of Mike Daisey’s monologue about Apple in China – March 16, 2012
Foxconn: The fire that wasn’t – March 15, 2012

34 Comments

    1. I think the SEC should launch a full investigation into each of these rumors that’s cause stock prices changes resulting in $$$ billion dollar plus changes in valuation. More stock price manipulators should be in jail.

    2. DeRS,

      Hey its China….. That LARGE cloud of dust particles that seem to be highly radioactive……. well, the Chinese government can assure you that it is NOT a large radioactive dust cloud…

      so there.

  1. So ONE person — ONE SINGLE PERSON — reports the claim an event that supposedly lasted many hours (some “articles retelling the story claimed the “strike” lasted at least one full shift and some claimed it lasted as long at two full shifts) on a micro blogging site including a picture of some people standing at a bus stop that supposedly involves the iPhone 5 production line and NO ONE bothers to check out its veracity before publishing it?

    Whatever happened to the old rule that you either needed
    1) two INDEPENDENT sources
    or
    2) Hard physical evidence

    Since in the following five days no one has been able to validate the story, there should be a prominent apology from China Labor Watch!

    I hate all lawsuits and hate lawyers even more, but this almost makes me think that a bunch of Apple stockholders should get together and sue China Labor Watch out of existence.

    1. Who the hell is China Labor Watch? when you dumb things down and legitimize tea party type noise and factual substance, source confirmation (double and triple) go down the toilet together with standards, truth, honesty, integrity, excellence, and dignity.

      You reap what you sow – take it back

    2. Since Watergate, every journalist and would be journalist has been in search of the BIG byline story. Their search is so intense that confirmed facts are no longer sought. The quick byline from a story soon forgotten is the goal. Collect enough and you’re considered a “star”. Bottom line, “facts” no longer matter.

    3. Shadowself……???????? Proof and hard evidence????

      You did read the part about how this was in China, right????

      You know, where people still go missing…. all the time….

      Just a thought.

  2. Yes they did… that is why iPhones have not been at any Apple store or carrier store for over a week. Apple will never flat out admit something like that nor will Foxxconn!

    It’s not like they ran out of stock daily… they have been DRY for days… up to 8 days so far!

    1. Yeah John, I have to believe that you are right. I don’t believe this is just some anti-Apple group or some wacky left wing liberal bunch making up stories. I do believe that Foxxconn is lying. This is trouble now and will be trouble going forward for Apple. This can be more problematic for Apple than Samsung and Google combined. This has always been the biggest concern for me as an investor in AAPL. Apple somehow needs to have production in friendlier confines. This won’t be the last time we hear of such problems. Apple needs to do something soon.

      1. I hope both you and John are aware that a stopped production line on October 5th would not have caused a shortage of iPhone 5s at Apple stores for “over a week”. It’s only been 5 days since the purported strike. I doubt a hiccup in production on October 5th would have been felt yet at the retail level. Nice try though. I hope your employers are paying you well.

        1. I’m not sure of your points? I didn’t say that it was responsible for a shortage of iPhones. Please learn to read and try not to be so paranoid. You have a habit of accusing people of things on this site. You seem to have a bad day every day. I’m simply expressing an opinion. And I do not work for anyone. Are you seeing black helicopters over your house too?

          1. John said “that is why iPhones have not been at any Apple store or carrier store for over a week.”

            You said “Yeah John, I have to believe that you are right.”

            Perhaps YOU need to learn to read, or at least remember what you wrote.

            Or, if you meant John was correct about some other part of what he said, you merely need to learn how to express yourself more clearly, rather than use words that indicate approval across-the-board of everything John said.

  3. Sorry to go Philo on everybody but. The media plays the biggest role in a Democratic society. A free press is an unbiased press that reports only the facts and is the peoples last bastion of Truth, Honesty and Justice. Today, unfortunately I see a press that is so biased they cannot be trusted. The press today has an agenda not to bring forth facts for debate but to try and shape an agenda they lean towards. Apple, for example is demonized and bashed by the media when the truth is they are trying to make the best products for the customer irrespective of profits. The press demonizes morality, honesty and truth to the detriment of Democracy. For what purpose? The media is nothing more than a propaganda machine today, no different than Nazi Germany and the Goerbal machine that demonized a whole race. Unfortunately only the educated and the righteous can see it.

  4. The Financial Times (no cheerleader for either Apple or Foxconn) had a reporter on the spot by Sunday and found no strike, just a small group of 200 or so frustrated quality control workers, o.1% of the 200,000 workers in the Zhengzhou factory. Also not mentioned: Foxconn workers who worked during national holidays got triple time, as required by law. How come there is *never* a story about Huawei or ZTE phone factories?

  5. Of course they did not go on strike. China … Last time I checked was a Communist country. Worker’s revolution, and all that jazz… (As we Americans see it, a Dictatorship. But, Hey … I read Marx in College.) So there is no reason for the workers to go on strike. After all Communism by definition is a Workers Utopia. (sniff .. sniff… Hope you smell my sarcasm.)

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