Workers protest at Foxconn plant in China

Some threaten to jump off roof before dispute settled
||Last Updated: 04/27/2012

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Workers at a Chinese factory owned by Foxconn, Apple’s main manufacturer, threatened to jump off the roof of a building in a protest over wages just one month after the two firms announced a landmark agreement on improving working conditions.

The protest happened in the central city of Wuhan at one of Foxconn's plants. The company employs 1.2 million workers in China assembling iPhones and iPads, among other products.

It involved some 200 workers, the Hong-Kong based activist group Information Centre for Human Rights said.

The protest concerned workplace adjustments and involved workers new to the plant, said a spokesman for Hon Hai Precision Industry, the listed unit of the Foxconn group. He said it was not a strike.

"The dispute has already been settled after some negotiations involving the human resources and legal departments as well as the local government," the Taipei-based spokesman, Simon Tsing, said.

Foxconn, China's largest private sector employer, and Apple agreed to tackle violations of working conditions and improve working environments. The deal was agreed to almost two years after a series of worker suicides at Foxconn plants focused attention on conditions at Chinese factories and sparked criticism Apple's products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.

Tsing declined to say how many employees were involved in the latest dispute. He said no-one had actually jumped off any building.

On Tuesday, Apple reported its fiscal second-quarter net income almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales, blowing past financial market expectations.

One of the complaints of the workers was they earned less in Wuhan than they had in their previous jobs, said the Information Centre for Human Rights. They returned to work after police intervened, it said.

Global protests against Apple swelled after reports spread in 2010 of a string of suicides at Foxconn's plants in southern China. Apple agreed to an investigation by the independent Fair Labor Association to stem criticism its products were built in sweatshop-like conditions.

Although Apple and Foxconn agreed to lift workers' salaries, wages have been rising quickly. The 159 million migrant workforce saw an average salary increase in 2011 of 21.2 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

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