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Employee Fight at Foxconn Highlights Tensed Labor Relations in China

The Chinese contractor for the Apple iPhones made a lot of headlines sometime back when it was reported that several workers from its main manufacturing campus for the iPhone committed suicide. As you can well imagine, many different media outlets from all over the world did in depth investigations regarding Apple’s back end manufacturer. A lot of revelations were quite disturbing to say the least. While people were getting paid, there were a lot of murmurs and a lot of general unhappiness regarding producing Apple iPhones. It’s not much different from touring a factory that produces Nike sports wear. Such sports wear is great to wear but there’s a lot of labor involved in putting together those shoes. The same goes with your Apple iPhone.

As a result of the negative publicity, Foxconn announced pay raises and several initiatives to improve the workplace environment. This past summer, there has been a lot of labor unrest throughout China. In keeping with that heightened tension throughout large areas of China’s manufacturing region is a large scale fight at Foxconn. According to reports, there were a lot of groups gathered together when workers were celebrating China’s mid-autumn festival. This is a big holiday in China and Korea where there’s a lot of drinking. As you can well imagine, when there’s a big crowd and a lot of alcohol involved, tensions can flare up. At its highest point, there were about three hundred to four hundred people in the crowd that was attracted by the fight.

Initial reports say that eleven people were injured in the large scale fight. It remains to be seen how many total people participated in the fight itself. Be that as it may, this is not a piece of good news for Apple since it just launched the Apple iPhone 5C. It appears that Foxconn still has a lot of work to go in terms of improving its workplace environment to minimize tensions. Still, you have to credit the company for the progress that it has made so far. As mentioned above, this is a region-wide issue that there’s a lot of labor tensions in China.

According to some forecasters, the biggest threat to Chinese manufacturing is not internal but demographic. Due to China’s one child policy, China is looking at a massive population collapse by the year 2050 unless it abandons its one child policy very soon. This is the main argument for such policies worldwide. If you need proof, just look at Singapore which had a one child policy back in the 70s and now it’s paying the price. It’s paying the price by having to import workers because it’s native population is continuing to decline or migrating. That’s how bad it could be.