Photo: Adam Mintner
Apple’s stock dropped 2.21 per cent on Monday.A few analysts blamed the drop — worth more than $12 billion — on a strike of 4,000 Chinese workers at Apple’s manufacturer.
But how do we know that strike really happened?
His best evidence: The organisation that got the news in the headlines is a group called Chinese labour Watch. Minter did a little research and found that while Chinese labour Watch says it got its information from “workers,” its press release was mostly cribbed from the tweets of just one person.
On October 5, this user, who goes by the name “Ye” wrote this message:
“A preliminary explanation for today’s quality control personnel strike: Some time ago a conflict broke out between K production line staff and quality control, leading to fights and the smashing up of quality control’s CA room, with many employees injured and hospitalized. It didn’t end there. K line once again got into a similar situation, and again quality control got a beating. Yesterday, there were once again physical threats between the L line and quality control. This was reported to senior managers, who ignored the seriousness of the problem. As a result, today’s day and night shifts have decided to stop production, the production line is paralysed…”
The same day, Chinese labour Watch put out a press release with this paragraph, full of the same details structured in a very similar way:
“That quality control inspectors would also strike is of no surprise. According to workers, there was a fight between workers and quality control inspectors in area K that led to the damage in inspection room CA, the injury of some people, and the hospitalization of others. After this, another similar incident occurred in area K, once again leading to quality control inspectors getting beat up. Yesterday, inspectors in area L received physical threats. When inspectors reported these issues to factory management, the management simply ignored and turned their back on the issue. For these reasons, all day and night shift inspectors carried out a work stoppage today that paralysed the production lines.”
The worst thing about all this is that, eventually, Ye caught on to what Chinese labour Watch was doing, and complained that it was exaggerating everything he’d said about strikes, which his employer, Foxconn, still denies ever happened.
Update: Here is a statement from Chinese labour Watch.
This article used most of Adam’s view. There are several stipulations and assumptions by Adam that were not correct, as Ye clarified in his latest weibo (such the reason Ye got angry was that 3g.cn website in China used a photo of Taiyuan Foxconn in their report). Adam selectively used Ye’s weibo and translated in an incorrect way (such as the ‘three small factories’ was ‘三个厂区’， which means three campuses and those three campuses holding at least 200,000 Foxconn workers.)
Just when Adam was listing Ye Fudao’s lack of Weibo updates due to anger at the media, Ye posted today on his website a correction of your assumptions.
From: Ye Futao
Dear Mr. Adam Minter: you have the freedom to criticise. Similarly, I also have the right to express anger at your baseless criticism and doubts! I state again: your criticism and doubts have absolutely no basis whatsoever!
Ye Fudao pointed out on his Weibo that a Chinese website www.3g.cn exaggerated his reporting, and he also pointed out that these websites used the pictures from the Taiyuan strikes. He said he was angry about that media specifically. Adam Minter saw Ye’s this part of the tweet, but did not translate this part or put it in his article. I’m afraid this is his manipulation of information.
Also, Adam seems to have ignored a large part of our explanation in our correspondence with him. For instance, this was our reply to him about how we confirmed the occurrence of the strike:
“In the past, we have conducted an investigation of this particular factory and established a part-time investigator in the factory. He initially informed us of the incident at the factory. After receiving the information from the investigator, we contacted Ye to confirm the story. We then confirmed with two other workers with whom we maintain contact, and one of them is actually a quality control inspector. All other information provided by Ye was the same as that provided by other workers. We cannot change the facts provided by them.”
Another Foxconn worker also responded to this issue on his weibo. This is the link of his weibo.
“I ask everyone to understand a worker. What we face is nothing that you could imagine from your offices. We are the same as 100 million other workers, just wanting to make our lives a bit better, just wanting to get a bit more of that which we have made. Based on our consciences, we post that which we see. We have no need to make things up. The real knowledge we have of specific details and the whole story is limited, so don’t malign us when we cannot provide the minor details. Thanks. Respects to @Ye Fu Dao.”