The Foxconn factory that handles most of the firm’s Apple iPhone manufacturing suffered damage today when a fire started in its central air conditioning system and spread to several floors. A representative from the Taiwan-based electronics OEM told the Wall Street Journal that there were no casualties at its plant in Zhengzhou and manufacturing operations won’t be affected. The fire, however, is another reminder of safety and workers rights violations over the years at Foxconn’s factories in China.
In a statement, Foxconn said the fire “was brought under control by the fire department shortly after it was reported.”
In May 2011, an explosion at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu in southwest China killed three people after combustible dust caught on fire inside a duct. Four months later, another fire broke out at a Foxconn factory in Shandong in eastern China, but there were no reported casualties. The company’s human rights record came under scrutiny the next year after a string of worker suicides which many observers blamed on poor conditions. In September 2012, an estimated 2,000 workers rioted at Foxconn’s plant in Taiyuan, northern China; some accused guards of beating employees.
In response, Foxconn said it will improve conditions and raise wages, but the company remains under heavy scrutiny and yet another factory fire—even a relatively minor one—will raise questions about how far it has actually come over the past four years. TechCrunch has also contacted Apple for comment.