Increased Pressure on Foxconn Workers Creates Defects in Apple Inc. Products


After increased pressure from management and quality control inspectors, workers at a Foxconn factory in China have reportedly gone on strike. With exceedingly high production demands due to Apple’s new product, the iPhone 5, combined with increased quality standards for finished products, the manufacturing workers are under enormous pressure.

Quality control inspectors have placed more rigid quality control standards on their workers due to pressure from Apple to have phones that leave the factory completely defect tree. This has created a great deal of stress, and with a range of error as small as  .02 millimeters it is easy to see why some workers are having a tough time. However, a few have responded to the stress by threatening or acting out with physical violence towards the inspectors. Despite what seems like a major problem, factory management ignored it for as long as they could, up until production had to be halted. Many of the quality control inspectors and some other workers, an estimated total of 3,000-4,000, have gone on strike largely due to these incidents.

With reports of multiple incidents of physical violence between front-line workers and quality control inspectors and rumors of a large scale strike, Apple appears to still be having trouble meeting demand for its latest product. On top of the working conditions manufacturers say are leading to frequent scratching and defects, it has been reported that many workers and not being allowed to leave work for holiday. Foxconn, a Taiwanese company and one of the world’s largest producers of electronics has denied most of these reports, saying that production was not halted due to incident and that no such strike has occurred. Additionally, they stated that the workers working over their holiday were paid triple their normal wage as mandated by the government.

Foxconn, a company who recently came under fire for poor working conditions and a 2,000 person brawl this September, appears to be having more problems relating to worker treatment and morale. Multiple production interruptions and even the mysterious death of a 22 year old in their employee housing have plagued the company since they have been struggling to meet the demands of one of the most highly anticipated products of the year.

Additionally, the workers have virtually no way of helping themselves to improve their conditions and control the immensity of demand placed upon them since they are forbidden from unionizing by law. Even without a union, a strike of such a large scale should get the attention of the parent company. Corporate statements denying the existence of a strike aside, 3,000 unhappy workers is a sure sign of both systemic flaws, and problems in the future.




3 thoughts on “Increased Pressure on Foxconn Workers Creates Defects in Apple Inc. Products

  1. While I have heard about the possible defects in Apple’s new product due to the pressure on its vendors, I had no idea that this problem occurred from the working conditions and stressful environment. This issue reminds me of our puppet class exercise in which under the stressful and slightly antagonizing environment, the workers produced up to 8 puppets with defects, or 40% of the inventory. With pressure put on quick productivity, defects are more prone to happen when workers are overwhelmed. I find it very troublesome that Foxxcon would put their workers under such aggravagating conditions which led to such violent effects.

  2. This definitely sounds like a lot of management problems that occurred in The Red Bead Experiment we did a few weeks ago. Foxconn and Apple are requiring workers to meet quality standards that are almost impossible and are probably due to system errors and not worker errors. Foxconn is not considering that defects in the new iPhone may be due to common cause variation that workers just can’t control. It seems like this is the extreme- having workers attack inspectors- of what could happen if companies do not take into consideration some of Deming’s 14 points, like ceasing dependence on inspection and driving out fear (since it is hard to be productive when you are constantly being scrutinized).

  3. I agree hat Foxconn needs to work on fixing their system first before evaluating the performance of its workforce. They need to develop a system of production with a low amount of defects in which workers will be satisfied enough on the job not to begin violently acting out towards the management. If Foxconn doesn’t fix this problem, I think they are going to have some major issues with future production.

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