Zhengzhou, China: Protesters at Foxconn factory clash with police, videos show

Beijing/Hong Kong
cnn business

Workers at China’s biggest iPhone assembly factory in riot gear were seen clashing with police on Wednesday, according to videos shared on social media.

Video showed hundreds of employees at the Foxconn campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou engaged in a face-off with law enforcement officers, many in white hazmat suits. In the footage, which has now been blocked, some protesters can be heard complaining about their pay and the sanitary conditions.

The scene comes days after Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people had signed up to fill advertised positions as part of a massive recruitment drive being held for Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant.

Apple (AAPL) is facing significant supply chain constraints at the assembly facility and expects iPhone 14 shipments to hit as soon as the key holiday shopping season begins. CNN has contacted the company for comment on the status of the plant.

A Covid outbreak last month forced the site to shut down, reportedly causing some worried factory workers to flee.

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Videos of several people leaving Zhengzhou went viral on Chinese social media in early November, forcing Foxconn to take steps to bring back its workers. To try to limit the fall, the company said it had quadrupled the daily bonus of workers at the plant this month.

On Wednesday, workers were heard in videos saying that Foxconn had failed to honor its promise of an attractive bonus and salary package after coming to work at the plant. Several complaints have been posted anonymously on social media platforms – accusing Foxconn of changing previously advertised pay packages.

In a statement in English, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “the allowance has always been met based on contractual obligation” after some new hires at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou appealed to the company on Tuesday regarding the work allowance. .

Workers were also heard in the video complaining about inadequate anti-Covid measures, stating that workers who test positive are not being isolated from the rest of the workforce.

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Foxconn said in an English statement that online speculation about COVID-positive employees living in dormitories at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou “are categorically untrue.”

“Before new employees arrive, the dormitory environment undergoes standard procedures for disinfection, and new employees are only allowed inside after the premises have passed a government inspection,” Foxconn said.

A search for the word “Foxconn” on Chinese social media now returns few results, indicating heavy censorship.

“With regard to the violent behavior, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn said in a statement in Chinese.

The Zhengzhou facility is the world’s largest iPhone assembly site. This typically accounts for about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Wojciech, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a provider of supply chain risk analytics.

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Apple warned of disruption to its supply chain earlier this month, saying customers would feel the impact.

“We now expect shipments of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to be lower than previously estimated,” the tech giant said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

As of last week, wait times for those models in the United States had reached 34 days, according to a UBS report.

Public frustration is growing under China’s unreliable zero-Covid policy, which has included strict lockdowns and travel restrictions nearly three years into the pandemic.

Last week, that sentiment was on display as social media footage showed residents under lockdown in Guangzhou breaking down barriers to take to the streets in defiance of strictly enforced local orders confining them to their homes.

— Michelle Toh, Simone McCarthy, Wayne Chang, Julianna Liu and Kathleen Magromeo contributed to this report.


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