Zero-Covid China: Workers at Zhengzhou iPhone factory clash with police, video shows


Beijing / Hong Kong
Business CNN

Workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly plant were seen confronting police, some in riot gear, on Wednesday, according to a video shared on social media.

The video shows hundreds of workers confronting law enforcement officers, many in white hazmat suits, at the Foxconn campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. In the footage, now blocked, some protesters can be heard complaining about their salaries and sanitary conditions.

The scene came the day after Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people have signed up to fill advertised positions as part of a massive recruitment drive organized for Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory.

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has faced significant supply chain constraints at assembly facilities and expects iPhone 14 shipments to hit when the key holiday shopping season begins. CNN has reached out to the company for comment on the factory situation.

The Covid outbreak last month has forced the site to be locked down, prompting some worried factory workers to reportedly flee.

A video of dozens of people leaving Zhengzhou on the streets went viral on Chinese social media in early November, forcing Foxconn to take steps to bring its staff back. To try to limit the fall, the company said it had quadrupled the daily bonus for workers at the factory this month.

On Wednesday, workers were heard on video saying that Foxconn had failed to fulfill its promises of attractive bonuses and pay packages after they arrived to work at the factory. Many complaints have also been posted anonymously on social media platforms – accusing Foxconn of changing previously advertised salary packages.

In a statement in English, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “allowances have always been fulfilled based on contractual obligations” after some new hires at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou appealed to the company about work allowances on Tuesday.

Workers are also heard in the video complaining about inadequate anti-Covid measures, saying workers who tested positive were not separated from other workers.

Foxconn said in an English-language statement that online speculation about Covid-positive employees living in Foxconn campus dormitories in Zhengzhou “is completely untrue.”

“Before the new hires move, the dormitory environment undergoes a standard procedure for disinfection, and it is only after the premise passes the government inspection, that the new employees are allowed to move,” said Foxconn.

A search for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social media now yields few results, an indication of heavy censorship.

“Regarding violent behavior, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn said in a statement in Chinese.

The Zhengzhou facility is the largest iPhone assembly site in the world. It typically accounts for about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Woitzik, director of global intelligence solutions at Everstream, a supply chain risk analytics provider.

Apple warned earlier this month of disruptions to its supply chain, saying customers would feel the impact.

“We now expect iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments to be lower than we previously anticipated,” the tech giant said in a statement. “Consumers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

In the last week, the waiting time for the model reached 34 days in the United States, according to a report from UBS.

Public frustration has grown over China’s relentless zero-Covid policy, which has continued to involve strict lockdowns and travel bans nearly three years into the pandemic.

Last week, the sentiment was shown as social media footage show residents under lockdown in Guangzhou broke down barriers meant to confine them to their homes and took to the streets to defy the strictly enforced local order.

– Michelle Toh, Simone McCarthy, Wayne Chang, Juliana Liu, and Kathleen Magramo contributed to this report.

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