Violent protests and riots have broken out at Apple’s biggest iPhone assembling plant in Zhengzhou, China owned by Foxconn. In videos circulating on social media, angry workers are seen clashing with security personnel as they attempt to leave the premises.
The Zhengzhou plant is Foxconn’s largest iPhone assembly plant in China which is also called iPhone City with more than 200,000 workers. After a COVID-19 breakout at the plant, local authorities put the plant under lockdown and a closed-loop production system in which workers stay, eat, and sleep at the plant.
Even at the start of the lockdown, it was reported that several employees had escaped from the facility to avoid strict living conditions at the plant and to be with their families. Now, the situation has gotten out of hand.
Angry workers at Apple’s iPhone factory complain of unsanitary living conditions and bonus cuts
Protesters uploaded videos and live-streamed confrontations with people in hazmat suits and riot police as they marched out of the factory. As seen in the videos, protesting workers were beaten and tear-gassed.
The aggrieved workers are demanding better living conditions at the facility and to be paid the bonuses they were promised. They complained that the management was forcing healthy workers to share dormitories with COVID-19-positive workers and had changed the contract so to deny them subsidies.
In the footage, a worker said they would continue to fight for their rights and also reported seeing a man “severely injured”
“They changed the contract so that we could not get the subsidy as they had promised. They quarantine us but don’t provide food.
If they do not address our needs, we will keep fighting.”
A new recruit told BBC that Foxconn had “changed the contract they promised”.
He said some newly recruited workers feared getting Covid from staff who had been there during the earlier outbreak. “Those workers who are protesting are wanting to get a subsidy and return home,” the staff member said.
More riots broken out at Foxconn factory in communist #china's Zhengzhou. Violence clashes escalated by both CCP & chinese rioters, tear gas grenades were fired as chinese rioters returned hostiles w/ fire distinguisher. pic.twitter.com/5OU7dXAiiE
— Northrop Gundam ∀🦅⚔️ (@GundamNorthrop) November 23, 2022
This new development could further impact iPhone 14 Pro shipments, the models with the most demand. Earlier, Apple confirmed that iPhone 14 Pro shipments will be limited due to the COVID-19 lockdown at the factory.
In a statement, Foxconn said that it would work with its staff and local government to resolve the issue and prevent further escalation of violence.
The firm said some workers had doubts about pay but that the firm would fulfil pay based on contracts.
It also described as “patently untrue” rumours that new recruits were being asked to share dormitories with workers who were Covid-positive.