Clashes between workers of the world’s largest iPhone factory in China and the police, according to videos | CNN Business


Beijing / Hong Kong
CNN Business

Workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly plant were seen confronting police, some in riot gear, on Wednesday, according to videos shared on social media.

Videos show hundreds of workers confronting law enforcement officers, many of them wearing white protective suits, at Foxconn’s campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. In the now-prohibited footage, some protesters can be heard complaining about their pay and health conditions.

These scenes come days after Chinese state media announced that more than 100,000 people had registered to fill the advertised jobs as part of a massive recruitment drive for Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou.

Apple (AAPL) has faced significant supply chain constraints at its assembly facility and expects iPhone 14 shipments to be affected just as the main holiday shopping season gets underway. CNN has contacted the company for comment on the situation at the plant.

The Covid outbreak last month forced the site to close, sending some worried factory workers fleeing.

Videos of several people leaving Zhengzhou on foot went viral on Chinese social media earlier in November, forcing Foxconn to ramp up action to get its employees back. In an effort to limit the fallout, the company said it quadrupled daily bonuses for factory workers this month.

On Wednesday, workers are heard on video saying Foxconn failed to deliver on their promise of an attractive bonus and salary package after they arrived to work at the plant. Several complaints were also posted anonymously on social media platforms – accusing Foxconn of changing previously announced salary packages.

In an English-language statement, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “the allowance has always been met on the basis of contractual obligation” after some new hires at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus appealed to the company about work allowance on Tuesday.

Workers are also heard in the videos complaining about inadequate anti-Covid measures, saying workers who tested positive for the virus were not separated from the rest of the workforce.

Foxconn said in the English release that online speculation about employees with positive COVID-19 living in dormitories at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus is “completely untrue.”

“Before the new employees move in, the dormitory environment undergoes standard disinfection procedures, and the new employees are only allowed to move after passing the government examination,” Foxconn said.

Searches for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social media now yield few results, an indication of heavy censorship.

“Regarding 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 largest iPhone assembly site in the world. This typically represents about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Wojciek, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a provider of supply chain risk analytics.

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

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

As of last week, the standby time for these models reached 34 days in the US, according to a report from UBS.

Public frustration is mounting under China’s strict no-coronavirus policy, which still entails strict lockdowns and travel restrictions nearly three years into the pandemic.

Last week, that sentiment played out when footage on social media showed residents under lockdown in Guangzhou breaking down barriers intended to restrict them to their homes and taking to the streets in defiance of strictly enforced local orders.

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

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