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Friday, November 19, 2010, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Foxconn workers protest pay as company denies white iPhone 4 part sales

Chinese workers of Foxconn, Apple's overseas manufacturing partner, protested their wages and proposed relocation plans this week. Also, the company denied its employees sold white iPhone 4 parts that allowed a high school student to assemble and sell them.

Foxconn workers stage large protest

Workers at a Foxconn factory in Foshan, China, staged a protest this week over wages, according to Reuters. Employees were reportedly upset over their pay, as well as plans to relocate some of them to inland factories.

Many companies in China have moved their manufacturing operations away from the coast and inland, where the labor and land costs are less. Workers claimed their demonstration had between 6,000 and 7,000 employees, and that the company threatened to fire anyone who would strike.

One worker said the factory pays wages of 1,100 yuan, or $165.80, per month. He said that wage is less than what Foxconn and its parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., agreed to pay employees when it recently raised wages.

The protest isn't the first time this year wages with Foxconn have come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, Apple was compelled to make a public statement after a rash of suicides occurred at the manufacturing hub of Foxconn in Shenzhen, China.

The iPhone maker began auditing its plants in 2006 after a newspaper report suggested workers at a Foxconn plant were treated unfairly and forced to operate under sweatshop-like conditions. Apple now conducts an annual audit of its overseas manufacturing partners. Last year it found that more than half weren't paying their workers valid overtime rates.

This week, Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, the eighth richest man in the world, indicated he wants to court Apple to assemble its products in Brazil. The businessman who made his fortune in the mining industry is looking to fill 90 square miles of space at the Port of Acu.

Hon Hai denies involvement in white iPhone 4 part sales

Also Friday, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. denied that Foxconn workers had sold white iPhone 4 components. The company said so in a formal statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, according to Bloomberg.

This week, a 17-year-old high school student in New York gained attention when it was revealed that he made as much as $130,000 buying white iPhone 4 replacement parts from overseas, and building his own models of Apple's smartphone. Hon Hai's statement came in response to reports that the components were bought from Foxconn workers.

The story isn't the first time Hon Hai has been forced to address its security and ability to protect Apple's secrets. Last year, Foxconn made headlines when a worker committed suicide after a fourth-generation iPhone prototype he was responsible for reportedly went missing.