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Foxconn Riot Erupts After a Bad Dining Experience

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Foxconn has -- through luck, magic, or anger at Mike Daisey -- managed to stay out of the news for the past few months. The producer of everything from iPads (AAPL) to Kindles (AMZN) to products for Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE), Dell (DELL), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has kept things fairly quiet since revelations of poor working conditions and employee suicides.

That is, until now. Earlier this week, as many as 1,000 Foxconn employees (although reports vary on the numbers) rioted after a disagreement of dubious origin.

On Wednesday, the Want China Times reported that the disturbance began with two security guards attempting to stop a thief at a male dormitory in Chengdu. Seeing an opportunity to address some of their grievances -- or just to, you know, riot -- other residents attacked the guards.

As of now, no one else is reporting the thief story. Instead, CNN, CBS, and Reuters all agree that the riot started with an argument in a restaurant. Apparently, seven intoxicated workers began “making a ruckus after an argument between the eatery’s owner and his wife affected their meal.” The police were soon called and the workers ran back to the dorm, shouting, “They are beating us.” Hearing this, other residents began throwing bottles and other objects.

Foxconn has been clear that the dormitory was owned and operated by third parties. They are cooperating with law enforcement.

The trouble lasted for about two hours before being broken up by police. Several arrests were made and no injuries have been reported.

While the official story centers on the issues at the restaurant, some sources have reported that workers were upset about pay. Somehow, it is difficult to believe that a thousand-person riot started with a few people at a restaurant. But stranger things have happened.

Of course, we already knew that Foxconn had issues with its workers. Regardless of the precipitating causes, this event will only serve to call attention to the Chinese company’s workforce, something they can’t be happy about.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.