Stricter iPhone 5 quality standards bring worker strike at Foxconn plant

Some iPhone 5(s AAPL) production was reportedly halted in one Chinese factory of mega-manufacturer Foxconn on Friday due to a conflict between workers and management. The work stoppage is being called a strike by the China Labor Watch group in a news release. The conflict was apparently related to increasingly strict iPhone build-quality standards that the workers felt they could not meet.

China Labor Watch, an independent group monitoring working conditions in factories in China, said that “multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings” came to a halt at the Zhengzhou factory when quality control inspectors on both the day shift and evening shift stopped working. Roughly 3,000 to 4,000 workers were involved, according to the report.

The root of the conflict is being attributed to the workers being forced to work through a holiday without vacation and tighter quality-control standards for Apple’s iPhone that workers felt they could not meet and didn’t have the training for. This reportedly led to physical confrontations between workers and inspectors that resulted in injuries, the labor rights group reported:

Additionally, quality control inspectors fell into to conflicts with workers and were beat up multiple times by workers. Factory management turned a deaf ear to complaints about these conflicts and took no corrective measures. The result of both of these circumstances was a widespread work stoppage on the factory floor among workers and inspectors.

This is the second disturbance at a Foxconn factory in almost two weeks. A riot broke out at a plant in Taiyun that involved several thousand workers, which shut down work for the day. Strikes, conflicts and work stoppages have become increasingly common in the Chinese factories that turn out goods like electronics over recent months as workers have demanded better pay and more humane working conditions.

Apple is just one customer of Foxconn’s but is easily its most important. And this is bad timing for Apple in particular, which is already having some trouble meeting very large demand for the brand new iPhone released in 31 countries over the last two weeks.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image courtesy of Flickr user secretlondon123