Hundreds Apple workers participated in demonstrations at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone facility in China, with some individuals breaking surveillance cameras and windows, as seen by social media footage.
The rare scenes of open dissent in China represent an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in the city of Zhengzhou, which has come to symbolize a dangerous buildup of discontent with the country’s ultra-strict COVID rules and the inept handling of the situation by the world’s largest contract manufacturer.
The demonstrations, which began early on Wednesday, appeared to have been sparked by a decision to withhold bonus payouts, according to a number of activists speaking on livestream streams. Reuters was unable to quickly verify the footage.
According to one video, employees surrounded by individuals wearing full hazmat suits and holding batons screamed, “Give us our wages!” Other films depicted the use of tear gas and the dismantling of quarantine fences.
Since the Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier imposed a so-called closed loop system at the world’s largest iPhone plant in late October, workers have fled the factory campus due to discontent over strict quarantine regulations, the company’s inability to eradicate outbreaks, and poor conditions including food shortages.
Under closed-loop operations, employees live and work in seclusion on-site.
According to former employees, hundreds deserted the manufacturing complex. Prior to the turmoil, the Zhengzhou facility employed around 200,000 individuals. Foxconn has had to provide bonuses and better compensation in order to retain current employees and recruit new ones.
In the films, workers claimed that they were never sure if they would receive meals under quarantine and that there were insufficient measures in place to manage an epidemic.
One individual stated, “Foxconn never respects persons as human beings.”
According to two persons with knowledge of the situation, there were protests on the Zhengzhou campus, but they declined to offer any information. They declined to identify themselves since they were not authorized to communicate with the media.
Apple and Foxconn have not responded to demands for comment.
Aiden Chau of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, stated in an email that it is now clear that closed-loop production in Foxconn only prevents COVID from spreading to the city, but does nothing (or even makes it worse) for the factory workers.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the majority of the video content on Kuaishou, a social media platform where Reuters watched many recordings, had been removed. Not responding to a request for feedback from Kuaishou.
Investors are concerned about rising global supply chain concerns due in part to China’s zero-COVID regulations, which are designed to eradicate every outbreak.
Restrictions and resentment have impacted production. Last month, Reuters reported that iPhone production at the Zhengzhou facility might decrease by much to 30 percent in November owing to COVID limits.
Foxconn is the largest iPhone manufacturer for Apple, accounting for 70% of worldwide iPhone shipments. It has minor production facilities in India and southern China, but the majority of its phones are produced at the Zhengzhou factory.
Since the outbreak of turmoil in late October, shares of Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, have fallen 2%.