China’s largest Foxconn iPhone plant rocked by new worker unrest

  • Online images show hundreds of workers protesting
  • They smashed surveillance cameras and windows with sticks
  • Workers complain of delayed wages and insufficient food

Shanghai/Taipei, Nov. 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers at Foxconn went on strike. (2317.TW) At the flagship iPhone factory in China, footage of people smashing windows and surveillance cameras was uploaded to social media.

Rare scenes of open dissent in China signaled growing unrest at the massive factory in the city of Zhengzhou, a dangerous build-up in frustration over the country’s strict COVID rules and inefficient handling of the situation. World’s largest contract manufacturer.

The trigger for the protests, which began early Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay bonus payments, many of the demonstrators said in livestream feeds. Reuters could not immediately verify the videos.

“Give us our wages!” The chanting workers were surrounded by men in full hazmat suits, some carrying batons, according to footage from a video. Other footage showed tear gas being used and workers removing isolated barricades.

Dissatisfaction with strict quarantine rules, the company’s inability to stamp out dire conditions, including outbreaks and food shortages, led to workers leaving factory premises at Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) In late October, the supplier imposed a so-called closed-loop system at the world’s largest iPhone plant.

Under closed-loop operations, employees live and work in isolation from the wider world.

Former workers estimated that thousands left the factory premises. Before the unrest, the Zhengzhou plant employed about 200,000 people. Foxconn had to offer bonuses and higher salaries to retain employees and attract more workers.

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In the videos, workers complained that they were never sure if they were going to get food while in quarantine, or that there weren’t enough controls to contain outbreaks.

“Foxconn never treats people like people,” said one.

Two sources familiar with the matter said there were protests at the Zhengzhou campus, but declined to provide further details. They declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Foxconn and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s now clear that closed-loop production at Foxconn only helps prevent contagion to the city, but nothing (if not makes it worse) for workers at the factory,” said Aidan Chau of Hong’s China Labor Bulletin. Kang’s advocacy group said in an email.

As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the footage on Guisho, a social media site where Reuters reviewed several of the videos, had been removed. Kwaisho did not respond to a request for comment.

The protest pictures come at a time when investors worry about increasing global supply chain problems as part of China’s zero-covid policies aimed at stamping out every outbreak.

Prohibitions and discontent have affected production. Reuters reported last month that iPhone output at the Zhengzhou factory could fall by up to 30% in November due to Covid restrictions. read more

Foxconn is Apple’s largest iPhone maker, accounting for 70% of iPhone shipments worldwide. It makes most of its phones at the Zhengzhou plant, although it has other smaller manufacturing sites in India and southern China.

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Shares in Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, have been held since the unrest emerged in late October.

Reporting by Brenda Ko and Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen, Yimo Lee and Yu Lun Tian in Taipei; By Ann Marie Rowntree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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