Foxconn: Arson at Mexico Plant Work of Angry Ex-employee

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A blaze set by angry workers at an electronics factory in Mexico last Friday was the work of a disgruntled former employee out for vengeance against electronics giant Foxconn, according to the company.

The fire was set in an activities center on the factory campus early Feb. 19 by employees that had ended their night shift and were waiting for buses to take them home. The buses never arrived, Foxconn said in a statement on Tuesday, because a disgruntled ex-employee had misled the bus company to stop services.

Then, "a group of about 30 people in the waiting area began to cover up their faces with bandanas in unison and initiated spreading malicious rumors of how Foxconn would not give overtime pay for the late bus to agitate the crowd, and even tried to block the passage way to prevent the bus from getting in to the campus," Foxconn said. Angry employees eventually set the fire.

Some news reports on the incident blamed Foxconn factory supervisors for holding up the buses in order to make workers stay overtime. Foxconn denied this charge, and labor groups in Mexico could not be reached for comment.

"The investigation reveals that this incident was the result of some former employee who has a personal score to settle," Foxconn said. "Foxconn also believes that the employees who were being misled to partake in the event had been manipulated, therefore, the company will take legal actions only against the disgruntled former employee who plotted this unlawful act, and no others."

The blaze will not affect shipments or stop Foxconn from making further investments in Mexico, it said.

Foxconn is the trade name under which Hon Hai Precision Industry operates. The Taiwanese company is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and employs over half a million workers around the world. Hon Hai makes products ranging from iPhones and iPods for Apple to mobile phones for Motorola, computers for Dell and PlayStation game consoles for Sony. It operates under a complex corporate structure of subsidiaries and affiliates around the world, including Foxconn International Holdings, Foxconn Electronics, and Foxconn Mexico Precision Industry Co., S.A. de C.V., where the fire was set.

The company bought a mobile phone factory in Juarez, Mexico, from Motorola in 2003 under a deal in which the U.S. phone maker continues to buy handsets produced at the site. The site is now home to a campus with several buildings and thousands of employees.

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