Workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly factory were seen confronting police, some in riot gear, on Wednesday, according to videos shared on social media.
Videos show hundreds of workers clashing with law enforcement officers, many in white hazmat suits, at the Foxconn campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. In the now-blocked footage, some of the protesters could be heard complaining about their wages and sanitary conditions.
The scenes come days later. Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people had applied for the advertised positions as part of a massive recruitment drive for Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant.
(AAPL) has been facing significant supply chain constraints at the assembly plant and expects iPhone 14 shipments to take a hit just as the key holiday shopping season kicks off. CNN has contacted the company for comment on the situation at the plant.
A Covid outbreak last month forced the site to close, prompting some anxious factory workers to flee.
Videos of many people leaving Zhengzhou on foot it had gone viral on Chinese social media in early November, forcing Foxconn to step up measures to get its staff back. To try to limit the fallout, the company said it had quadrupled daily bonuses for workers at the plant this month.
On Wednesday, workers were heard on video saying Foxconn reneged on its promise of a handsome bonus and pay package after they arrived at the plant for work. Numerous complaints have also been posted anonymously on social media platforms, accusing Foxconn of having changed previously announced salary packages.
In a statement in English, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “the assignment has always been fulfilled based on contractual obligation” after some new employees at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus appealed to the company regarding the job assignment on Tuesday.
Workers in the videos were also heard complaining about insufficient anti-Covid measures, saying that workers who tested positive were not being separated from the rest of the workforce.
Foxconn said in the English-language statement that online speculation about employees being COVID-19 the positive dormitory life at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus is “patently false”.
“Before new employees move in, the dormitory environment undergoes standard sanitization procedures, and only after the premise passes government control are new employees allowed to move in,” Foxconn said.
Searches for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social media now return 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 world’s largest iPhone assembly site. It typically accounts for about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Woitzik, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a supply chain risk analytics provider.
Apple warned earlier this month of disruption to its supply chain, saying customers will feel an impact.
“We now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated,” the tech giant said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”
As of last week, the wait time for those models had reached 34 days in the United States, according to a UBS report.
Public frustration has been mounting under China’s relentless zero-Covid policy, which continues to involve strict lockdowns and travel restrictions nearly three years into the pandemic.
Last week, that sentiment was on display in social media images. He showed Locked-down residents in Guangzhou breaking down barriers meant to confine them to their homes and taking to the streets in defiance of strictly enforced local orders.
— Michelle Toh, Simone McCarthy, Wayne Chang, Juliana Liu, and Kathleen Magramo contributed to this report.