Foxconn's massive iPhone factory in China rocked by new worker unrest

Foxconn’s massive iPhone factory in China rocked by new worker unrest

  • Online footage shows hundreds of workers protesting
  • Surveillance cameras and windows smashed by men with sticks
  • Workers complain of late payments and insufficient food

SHANGHAI/TAIPEI, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s (2317.TW) flagship iPhone factory in China, with some men smashing surveillance cameras and windows, pictures showed images uploaded to social networks.

The rare scenes of open dissent in China mark an escalation of unrest at the huge factory in the city of Zhengzhou that has come to symbolize a dangerous buildup of frustration with the country’s ultra-tough COVID rules as well as inept management. of the situation by the largest contract manufacturer in the world.

The trigger for the protests, which began early Wednesday, appears to be a plan to delay bonus payments, many protesters said on live streams. The videos could not be immediately verified by Reuters.

“Give us our wages!” chanted workers who were surrounded by people in hazmat suits, some carrying batons, according to video footage. Other images showed tear gas being deployed and workers removing quarantine barriers.

Dissatisfaction with strict quarantine rules, the company’s inability to eradicate disease outbreaks and poor conditions, including food shortages, have driven workers to flee the factory campus since the supplier Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has imposed a so-called closed-loop system on the world’s largest. iPhone factory at the end of October.

In closed-loop operations, personnel live and work on site, isolated from the rest of the world.

Former workers estimated that thousands fled the factory campus. Before the unrest, the Zhengzhou factory employed some 200,000 people. To retain staff and attract more workers, Foxconn had to offer higher bonuses and salaries.

In the videos, workers explained that they were never sure about going for meals during quarantine or complained that there were no curbs in place to contain an outbreak.

“Foxconn never treats humans like humans,” one person said.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said there had been 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 is now clear that closed-loop production at Foxconn is only preventing the spread of COVID in the city, but doing nothing (or making it worse) for factory workers,” said Aiden Chau. from the China Labor Bulletin, a Hungarian. Kong-based advocacy group, said in an email.

By Wednesday afternoon, most images on Kuaishou, a social media platform where Reuters has reviewed many videos, had been removed. Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.

The protest footage comes at a time when investors are worried about escalating global supply chain issues in part because of China’s zero-COVID policies that aim to eradicate any outbreak.

Brakes and discontent hit the production. Reuters reported last month that iPhone production at the Zhengzhou factory could drop 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 the phones from the Zhengzhou plant, although it has other smaller production sites in India and southern China.

Shares of Foxconn, officially called Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, have fallen 2% since the unrest emerged in late October.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and the Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen, Yimou Lee in Taipei and Yew Lun Tian; Written by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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