Unrest Spreads at Massive iPhone Plant

Workers are in 'closed loop' amid COVID measures at Foxconn complex in China
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2022 12:38 PM CST

Last month, thousands of workers fled the vast Foxconn factory complex in Zhengzhou, China, as COVID lockdown measures were imposed. Their replacements are apparently not happy to be there. Videos posted online show thousands of workers clashing with police officers and security staff in white protective suits, the Wall Street Journal reports. Workers complained that Foxconn had failed to honor promises of bonuses and higher pay—and that workers who had tested positive for COVID were not being separated from others. They also complained that they couldn't be sure they would get meals if they were placed in quarantine.

The complex, which had 200,000 workers before last month's exodus, has been operating in a "closed-loop" system, with employees living and working at the site. "It's now evident that closed-loop production in Foxconn only helps in preventing COVID from spreading to the city, but does nothing (if not make it even worse) for the workers in the factory," Aiden Chau of China Labour Bulletin tells Reuters. Employee Li Sanshan tells the AP that Foxconn deceived workers like himself who quit other jobs and traveled long distances to work at the complex in north-central China. Li say sworkers were promised $3,500 for two months of work —but when they arrived, they were told they would have to work for two months at a lower pay rate first.

Workers were seen on video smashing windows and surveillance cameras, the BBC reports. "If they do not address our needs, we will keep fighting," one man said during a livestream. In a statement Wednesday, Foxconn said the "allowance has always been fulfilled based on contractual obligation." The company denied that new employees were being forced to share dormitories with infected workers. The facility is the world's largest iPhone assembly site, and Apple has warned that customers will have to wait longer for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments because of supply chain issues, CNN reports. In Hong Kong, meanwhile, chief executive John Lee is in isolation after testing positive for COVID after returning from a summit in Thailand where he had meetings with regional leaders including Xi Jinping, reports the AP. (Read more China stories.)

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