Hundreds of employees demonstrated their anger in China on Wednesday, November 23 against their living conditions in the largest iPhone factory in the world, owned by Taiwanese subcontractor Foxconn and subject to strong anti-Covid restrictions.
The factory is located in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan province. It is a huge industrial site, dubbed “iPhone City”, which typically employs some 200,000 people, most of whom reside on site in dormitories. Faced since October with an increase in cases of coronavirus, the company is confined.
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Global iPhone manufacturing disrupted by Covid outbreak at Chinese mega-factory
China tirelessly pursues a “zero Covid” health policy, which involves strict confinements, quarantines for those who test positive and almost daily PCR tests, arousing growing discontent among the population. In Zhengzhou, workers are sometimes confined for many weeks to campuses or production sites, without the possibility of moving freely.
Images of violence
Footage of the protests, posted on social media Twitter and Weibo and verified by AFP, shows a crowd of workers marching down a street. Some face people in white full body protective suits and riot police. On a video, filmed at night, a man appears with a bloody face. Off camera, we hear another say:
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AFP was able to verify this video in particular thanks to geolocation, which made it possible to recognize one of the buildings and barriers near employee accommodation on the factory site. Another video shows cabins used for Covid screening tests destroyed and an overturned vehicle. In other footage, hundreds of people in white coveralls are seen standing on a road near the factory dormitories, sometimes punching workers to the ground.
A video shows several fire engines and police officers in white overalls, while a voice in a loudspeaker chants: “All workers, please return to your accommodations, do not associate with a minority of spoilers. »
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Confined production site
In a press release, Foxconn confirmed on Wednesday “violence” in his factory. The Taiwanese group acknowledged workers had complained about wages and working conditions at the factory, but denied accommodating new hires with coronavirus-positive staff.
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Foxconn is a large group that assembles electronic products for many international brands. The Taiwanese company, Apple’s main subcontractor, has been faced in recent months with an increase in Covid cases at its Zhengzhou site.
She had decided to confine the area, with the workers inside. But hundreds of panicked workers then fled in late October, some complaining of the chaos and disorganization there. To keep the factory afloat, the group offered large bonuses to the remaining employees and tried to recruit new workers.
The American giant Apple, of which the iPhone is the flagship, had admitted in early November that the confinement of the site had “temporarily assigned” factory production, a blow before the end-of-year holiday sales period.