Huge Foxconn iPhone plant in China rocked by fresh labor unrest

Huge Foxconn iPhone plant in China rocked by fresh labor unrest
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  • Online images show hundreds of workers protesting
  • Surveillance cameras and windows broken by men with sticks
  • Workers complain about late pay, insufficient food

SHANGHAI/TAIPEI, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s (2317.TW) Flagship iPhone plant in China, with some men breaking surveillance cameras and windows, images posted on social media show.

The rare scenes of open dissent in China mark an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in the city of Zhengzhou that has come to symbolize a dangerous buildup of frustration with the country’s ultra-tough COVID rules, as well as the inept handling of the situation by part of the government. largest contract manufacturer in the world.

The trigger for the protests, which began early on Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay bond payments, many of the protesters said in live streams. The videos could not be immediately verified by Reuters.

“Give us our pay!” workers chanted, surrounded by people in full hazmat suits, some with batons, according to video footage. Other footage showed tear gas being deployed and workers breaking down quarantine barriers.

Discontent over strict quarantine rules, the company’s inability to stamp out outbreaks and poor conditions, including food shortages, have caused workers to leave the factory campus since Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) The vendor imposed a so-called closed-loop system at the world’s largest iPhone plant in late October.

Under closed-loop operations, staff live and work on site isolated from the rest of the world.

Former workers have estimated that thousands fled the factory campus. Before the riots, the Zhengzhou plant employed about 200,000 people. To retain staff and attract more workers, Foxconn has had to offer higher wages and bonuses.

In the videos, workers expressed that they were never sure if they were going to receive meals while in quarantine or complained that there weren’t adequate curbs to contain an outbreak.

“Foxconn never treats humans like humans,” said one person.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said there were protests at the Zhengzhou campus, but declined to provide further details. They declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Foxconn and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

“It is now apparent that closed-loop production at Foxconn only helps prevent COVID from spreading to the city, but does nothing (if not worsen) for factory workers,” China Labor Bulletin’s Aiden Chau, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group said in an email.

As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the footage on Kuaishou, a social media platform where many of the videos were reviewed by Reuters, had been removed. Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.

The images from the protest come at a time when investors are worried about escalating global supply chain problems due in part to China’s zero-COVID policies that aim to stamp out all outbreaks.

Curbs and discontent have hit production. Reuters reported last month that iPhone production at the Zhengzhou factory could drop as much as 30% in November due to COVID restrictions. read more

Foxconn is Apple’s largest iPhone maker, accounting for 70% of iPhone shipments globally. It makes most of the phones at the Zhengzhou plant, though it has other, smaller production sites in India and southern China.

Shares in Foxconn, formally called Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, have fallen 2% since unrest broke out in late October.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen, Yimou Lee in Taipei, and Yew Lun Tian; Written by Anne Marie Roantree; Edited by Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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