The company has added to its numbers at an iPhone plant in Zhengzhou, eastern China, ending a freeze on recruitment that was implemented back in February. The new workers will reportedly assemble the upcoming “iPhone 5S,” as well as existing models that Apple has requested to boost capacity, a supply chain source said.
Foxconn has reportedly placed a recruitment freeze across most of its factories in China as the company slows production of the iPhone 5, the Financial Times reports. This is believed to be the first such freeze since 2009, and it’s seen as an emphasis of the “weakening demand” for some Apple products. But does the freeze really have anything to do with Apple’s devices?
The poor working conditions in Foxconn’s Chinese factories have been widely documented for some time now, but the reports have seemingly done very little to dissuade workers from applying for Foxconn jobs.
Thousands have reportedly turned up to the company’s Chengdu and Zhengzhou plants in the hope of securing a “summer job” that is likely to involve the assembly of Apple’s new iPhone, and possibly even an “iPad mini.”
Foxconn has confirmed that a 23-year-old worker committed suicide this week by jumping from his apartment in the southwestern city of Chengdu. The worker only began his employment with Foxconn last month. Police are investigating the death.
Despite Apple’s stated efforts to improve worker conditions at their Foxconn factories in China, worker tension is still high, as up to a thousand workers rioted in Chengdu last night for hours over a minor incident.
Apple is reportedly gearing up to open two new stores in China which will be positioned near the Foxconn factories that assemble the large majority of its Mac and iOS devices. There are currently only five Apple retail stores on China’s mainland — three in Shanghai and two in Beijing — but Chengdu and Shenzhen could be home to another two very soon.
Employees at Foxconn factories in China claim that the company hid underage workers during the recent inspection by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) so that they would not be discovered, according to the organization Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM).
Foxconn workers at the company’s plant in Yantai, a city in the northeastern Shandong province, have had to evacuate the building today as another fire and possible explosion engulfed parts of the factory in smoke. Thankfully, it seems no one has been injured.
Foxconn’s public relations issues have just collided. A week after an explosion rocked Foxconn’s iPad 2 production facility in Chengdu, China, an employee of that facility has committed suicide.
The news keeps on getting worse for Apple in the wake of the Chengdu Foxconn explosion. Besides the ghastly loss of three lives and the dozens of wounded Foxconn employees, the explosion could cost Apple half a million iPad 2s. Given existing supply problems, that’s a number of lost iPads Apple can ill afford to lose.
In the short term, iPad 2 supply is likely to get even worse, as Foxconn has just closed all of its polishing plants across China for investigation.
The unexpected explosion that rocked Foxconn’s Chengdu facility on Friday killing three has been blamed upon a build up of combustible dust at the iPad 2 polishing plant. As a two-week old report on factory worker conditions makes clear, though, the dangers of allowing such dust to build-up has been brought to the attention of Foxconn and Apple before.