Massive unrest broke out Wednesday at iPhone manufacturer Foxconn's largest factory in Zhengzhou in central China after a month of extreme covid restrictions.
Foxconn released a statement confirming the unrest and stating that it would work with both employees and the government to prevent further "violence" from occurring. "Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again" the statement read.
In October, amid rising Covid infections, Foxconn created a "closed loop" system for employees. Workers were required to live on the factory's campus and were not allowed to have physical contact with the outside world, including family members. By later October, the facility's cafeteria had been shut down with workers being given "meal boxes" or bread and instant noodles which they were required to eat at their dorms instead of in public. The cafeteria shutdown led to scuffles among some of the employees over food.
By the beginning of November, Beijing locked down the metro area surrounding the facility as part of its zero Covid policy which caused some employees to begin leaving the factory.
Now, in videos on Twitter that have been verified by AFP and Reuters, hundreds of employees can be seen clashing with security guards and others in hazmat suits as the oppressed workers' tensions reach an all-time high. According to Reuters, Wednesday's protests and the backlash were caused by delayed bonus payments which led to workers chanting, "Give us our pay!"
There are concerns that the outbreak of unrest and protests could cause a drastic reduction in iPhone production. Apple has already had to reduce iPhone 14 production due to the Covid restrictions at the facility.
A source told Reuters that Foxconn will probably miss production goals because the unrest is centered around new recruits that were hired to fill a gap in the workforce. The source told Reuters, "Originally, we were trying to see if the new recruits could go online by the end of November. But the unrest, it's certain that we can't resume normal production by the month-end."
Between the unrest in China, trade conflicts, and rising geopolitical tensions, Apple has begun to diversify its iPhone 14 production moving some aspects of it to India in an effort to keep its global supply chain operational.
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