Quality workers strike at Apple iPhone manufacturing plant, according to advocacy group

What’s going on at the Apple iPhone manufacturing plant? According to reports from China Labor Watch (CLW) – a New York-based advocacy group that monitors working conditions in China’s factories – over 3000 workers downed tools late last week over various grievances including strict quality control measures.

The report claims that the workers - already upset about being asked to work on a holiday - were required to meet increased quality demands but lacked the sufficient training or processes to meet the new standards. This put increasing pressure on the workers and brought them into conflict with quality control inspectors, some of whom were allegedly attacked by production workers, said the report.

A statement released by Foxconn confirmed that there had been a small dispute but denied reports of the stoppage reported by CLW.

"We can confirm that there were two disputes between a small group of production line workers and Quality Assurance (QA) personnel at our manufacturing facility in Zhengzhou, China on October 1 and 2 but these were isolated incidents and were immediately addressed and measures taken, including providing additional staff for the lines in question, to address the issues raised by both production workers and QA personnel," according to the statement. "This is consistent with our efforts to work with our employees to continuously enhance any aspects of our production that can improve the workplace and manufacturing practices."

However, a spokeperson did confirm that there was an "incident" on Friday but that it had minimal impact.

"The incident was triggered by an emotional standoff between quality control personnel and production-line workers," the Foxconn spokeperson was quoted as saying in London’s Financial Times. "After we addressed the issues, people on the [Friday] day shift resumed work, and there was basically no impact on the production lines."

The iPhone 5 has been snapped up voraciously by consumers since its launch late last month. Apple sold over five million of its new iPhone 5 within just days of its launch on September 21 and demand quickly exceeded initial supply.

"Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement released by Apple on 24 September.

"While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone."

But if the reports are believed, the mounting pressure appears to be taking its toll on the workers expected to deliver them.