China’s largest iPhone factory workers clash with police in video

Social media videos show workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly factory confronting police in riot gear on Wednesday.

On the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou, central Chinese city, hundreds of workers face off with law enforcement officers, many in white hazmat suits. Some of the protesters can be heard complaining about their pay and sanitary conditions in the now-blocked footage.

China’s state media reported days ago that more than 100,000 people applied for jobs advertising Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant as part of a massive recruitment drive.

There have been significant supply chain constraints at Apple’s assembly facility, and shipments of iPhone 14 are expected to be delayed just as the holiday shopping season approaches. The company has been contacted by reporters for comment.

In response to a Covid outbreak last month, some factory workers fled, causing the site to be locked down.

Foxconn stepped up measures to get its staff back after videos of many leaving Zhengzhou on foot went viral on Chinese social media earlier in November. This month, the company quadrupled the daily bonuses for plant workers to limit the fallout.

After arriving to work at Foxconn’s plant on Wednesday, workers complained about Foxconn failing to honor their promise of an attractive bonus and pay package. There have also been numerous anonymous complaints posted on social media platforms accusing Foxconn of changing its advertised salary packages.

Foxconn said Wednesday that “the allowance has always been fulfilled based on contractual obligations” after some new hires at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou appealed about the allowance on Tuesday.

Several workers complained in the videos that anti-Covid measures were insufficient, saying that workers who tested positive were not separated from other workers.

According to state media, Foxconn has recruited 100,000 new employees for its largest iPhone factory.

The English statement from Foxconn says speculation about Covid-positive employees living in Foxconn’s dormitories in Zhengzhou is “patently false.”

“Before new hires move in, the dormitory environment undergoes standard procedures for disinfection, and it is only after the premise passes government check, that the new employees are allowed to move in,” explains Foxconn.

It is now hard to find results when searching for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social media, a sign of heavy censorship.

“Regarding violent behaviors, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn stated.

The Zhengzhou facility is the world’s largest iPhone assembly facility. According to Mirko Woitzik, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a provider of supply chain risk analytics, it typically accounts for 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity.

Earlier this month, Apple warned of disruptions to its supply chain, saying customers would feel the effects.

“We now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated,” Apple said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

UBS reports that the wait time for those models in the United States has reached 34 days as of last week.

Nearly three years into the pandemic, China’s zero-Covid policy continues to involve strict lockdowns and travel restrictions.

It was on display last week as social media footage showed residents under lockdown in Guangzhou tearing down barriers meant to confine them to their homes and taking to the streets against strictly enforced local orders.