Foxconn reportedly reopened its factory in Taiyuan, Central China's Shanxi Province Tuesday, one day after the factory was forced to close due to a massive brawl involving nearly 2,000 of its workers. The fight, which was described by some as a "riot," lasted for four hours from late Sunday to early Monday, leaving some 40 people injured.
According to media reports, the incident was triggered by security guards at the plant beating workers in a dispute.
Some attribute the riot to Foxconn's quasi-military style of management. Such an approach may have worked with the older generation of workers, but is outdated today when the factories are filled with fresh faces. The Taiyuan factory employs around 79,000 workers, most of whom belong to the new generation of migrant workers, while some even belong to the post-1990s generation.
These workers from the new generation have a higher awareness of their rights and interests, and long for equality and respect.
At an activity in January in Taipei, Terry Guo, the founder and chairman of Foxconn, said that managing as many as 1 million workers per day was a big headache. In fact, it's not only a challenge for Foxconn, but many other similar enterprises in China's manufacturing sector.
In the past 30 years, China's manufacturing sector has developed on the back of large-scale production and a cheap labor force. Millions of Chinese workers were engaged in assembly line work for low salaries. Many of them even had to work extra hours. The working conditions in the company's factories and the salary it provides is believed to be much better than those of smaller factories.
But with more and more new generation workers entering the industry, higher expectations have been placed on manufacturing enterprises. They demand more besides higher salaries, and will take actions to ensure their rights.
Nowadays, the new workers have replaced their parents as the backbone of China's manufacturing industry, and special attention should be paid to their demands, while conflicts between this demand and the old management style of these manufacturing enterprises should be carefully handled.
The riot involving thousands of workers has sent a warning signal. Those who fail to improve will face even greater risks.
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