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Foxconn workers riot in south-western China

Attention, everyone who didn’t feel bad enough just yet about the conditions in which their favorite Apple device had been constructed: You’re about to feel much, much conflicted about the people who put it all together for you. According to reports, somewhere between 100 and 1000 factory workers at a south-western plant operated by Apple’s main manufacturer (and subject of a controversially untrue episode of This American Life) Foxconn rioted this week.

The riot took place on Monday night, although there seem to be at least two different versions of exactly what happened, and just how big the riot actually was. According to PCMag, sourcing the Want China Times, the source of the conflict occurred when security guards were prevented from stopping the escape of a thief by factory workers nearby one of the factory dormitories in Chengdu. In this version of the story, around 1000 workers were involved, throwing trash bins, bottles, furniture and fireworks from their windows for two hours while authorities tried to restore peace to the area. According to the WCT, “dozens” of workers were arrested by police as a result.

However, the Reuters report of the riot is significantly different; in this version, the riot was actually started by an argument between the owner of a local Chengdu restaurant and his wife, which “affected [the] meal” of seven workers from the factory who were eating there; after the workers started to loudly complain about the argument, the restaurant owner called the police to have them ejected, at which point the workers ran to their nearby dormitory yelling “They are beating us!” repeatedly. Such an announcement brought a number of their fellow workers – estimated at around 100, not 1000 – back to the restaurant, throwing bottles and shouting at the owner and those still inside. Happily, in this version of the story no-one was injured in the fracas, and police report only four drunken workers detained overnight.

Foxconn’s response to inquiries supports the latter narrative. “We were informed by local law enforcement authorities that late Monday night, several employees of our facility in Chengdu had a disagreement with the owner of a restaurant located in that city,” the company said in a statement, “”We were also informed that the employees subsequently returned to their off-campus residence, owned and managed by third-party companies, at which time a number of other residents also became involved in the disagreement and local police were called to the scene to restore order. Foxconn is cooperating with local law enforcement authorities on their investigation into this incident.”