Footage uploaded to social media showed hundreds of workers joining protests at Foxconn’s main iPhone factory in China, with some men smashing security cameras and windows.
The rare scenes of open dissent in China represent an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in Zhengzhou that has come to symbolize a dangerous buildup of frustration with the country’s draconian COVID rules as well as the incompetent handling of the situation by the world’s largest contract manufacturer.
Several protesters said in a live broadcast that the outbreak of the protests, which began early Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay bonus payments. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.
Surrounded by people in hazmat suits and some wielding batons, the workers, according to a video from one of the videos, chanted, “Give us our wages!”. Other footage showed tear gas being fired and workers removing quarantine barriers. Some workers have complained that they have been forced to share dormitories with colleagues who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Foxconn It said in a statement that it had fulfilled its payment contracts and that reports of employees with COVID-19 living on campus were “untrue.”
The company added that with regard to any acts of violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
A source familiar with the situation in Zhengzhou said production at the factory was not affected by workers’ unrest and production remained “normal”.
Dissatisfaction with the strict quarantine rules, the company’s inability to stamp out disease outbreaks and poor conditions, including food shortages, has led workers to flee the factory campus since apple The supplier imposed a so-called closed-loop system at the world’s largest iPhone factory in late October.
Under closed loop operations, employees live and work on site in isolation from the wider world.
Former workers estimated that thousands fled the factory campus. Before the unrest, the Zhengzhou factory employed about 200,000 people. To retain employees and attract more workers, Foxconn had to offer higher bonuses and salaries.
In the videos, workers talked about never being sure whether they would get meals while in quarantine or complained that there weren’t enough restrictions to contain the outbreak.
One person said, “Foxconn never treats people as people.”
Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
“It is now clear that closed-loop production at Foxconn only helps prevent the spread of COVID to the city, but does nothing (if not make it worse) for the workers in the factory,” Aiden Chau of China Labor Bulletin, a Hong-based advocacy group, said. Kong in an email.
As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the footage had been deleted on Kuaishou, a social media platform where Reuters has reviewed many of the videos. Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.
The protest images come at a time when investors are wary of escalating global supply chain problems due in part to China’s COVID-free policies aimed at stamping out every outbreak.
Restrictions and discontent affected production. Reuters reported last month that iPhone production at the Zhengzhou factory could drop by up to 30 percent in November due to COVID restrictions.
Foxconn is Apple’s largest iPhone maker, accounting for 70 percent of iPhone shipments globally. Most of the phones are made in the Zhengzhou factory, 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 percent since the unrest erupted in late October.