Thousands of Foxconn workers clash with security guards in China

September 26th, 2012

Published on WSWS, by John Chan, September 25, 2012.

Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest outsourcing electronics manufacturer, had to suspend production at one of its major facilities, in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan, on Monday following a protest during which 2,000 assembly line workers clashed with 1,500 security guards.  

The unrest is another sign of the rising social tensions in China, where the economy is slowing sharply due to the deepening slump in the major Western markets, threatening to fuel major working class confrontations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime.

There have been a growing number of strikes in China in line with emerging movements of the working class around the world, including the struggles by South African platinum miners, the strike by Chicago teachers against Obama administration and the ongoing protests opposing austerity by workers in Europe.

The Foxconn plant in Shanxi’s provincial capital has 79,000 workers. It is part of the supply chain that makes components for major international corporations, including for Apple’s new iPhone 5. Foxconn is the largest private employer in China, with 1.1 million workers, mostly young.

According to the British Telegraph, the unrest was sparked late on Sunday night after “a dispute between a worker and aggressive security guards in one of the factory dormitories spiralled out of control” and “thousands of workers streamed off their shifts and joined the fray against the plant’s 1,500 security guards.” The report noted witness accounts, posted on Internet blogging sites, that “grievances over pay and working conditions were also aired” and “the factory’s supermarket was also destroyed.”
About 10,000 onlookers then became involved in the confrontation, forcing authorities to deploy 5,000 police officers to quell the disturbance. The participants, mainly assembly line workers, smashed security posts, factory gates and vehicles, including police cars … //
… China’s vice premier Li Keqiang also feigned sympathy, asking Apple and other international corporations to be more “caring” to the millions of Chinese workers they exploited.

However, this posturing disappeared quickly, especially when the orders for the new iPhones arrived. In some places, authorities forced students into the Foxconn workforce in order to meet the targets. In Jiangsu province’s Huai’an city, several tertiary institutes compelled thousands of students to become Foxconn “interns” for two months, making parts for the iPhone 5. In Henan province, local governments even subsidised Foxconn’s payrolls to help it meet the production targets.

Foxconn and similar contract manufacturers throughout China and Asia are facing downward pressure on their profitability because of the worsening global economic crisis. Foxconn’s net profit margin fell to just 1.4 percent in the second quarter of this year—down from 1.5 percent in the first three months. Its first half-year profit rose by just 0.5 percent, with deep losses from its handset manufacturing business.

With China’s manufacturing contracting for 11 consecutive months, it is only a matter of time before far broader unrest erupts among the country’s multi-million working class. (full text).

Link: Guess Where These Beautiful Pictures Were Taken … ,
on Washingtons Blog, by blog owner, September 25, 2012.

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