China Covid: Anger against giant iPhone factory in Zhengzhou

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Protests have broken out at the world’s largest iPhone factory in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, according to footage circulating widely online.

Video shows hundreds of activists marching, some being confronted by people in hazmat suits and riot police.

Those broadcasting the protest live said that the activists were beaten up by the police. The clash also appeared in the video.

Last month, Covid cases at manufacturer Foxconn closed sites, prompting some workers to walk out and go home.

The company then recruited new employees with the promise of generous bonuses. Foxconn has yet to comment on the latest disruptions.

Footage shared on the live-streaming site showed workers chanting, “Defend our rights! Defend our rights! Other activists were seen smashing surveillance cameras and windows with sticks.

Several clips show workers complaining about the food they have been given and saying they have not received the promised bonus.

A Foxconn employee said during his live stream, “They changed the contract so that we can’t get the grant they promised. They are quarantining us but not providing food.”

“If they don’t meet our needs, we will continue to fight.”

He also claimed to have seen a man “seriously injured and [who] could have died” after being beaten by police.

A worker who recently started working at the Zhengzhou plant also told the BBC workers were protesting because Foxconn had “changed the promised contract”.

He added that some newly recruited employees were also worried about catching Covid from employees who were there during the previous outbreak.

The employee said, “These protesting employees want to get the grant and go home.”

A heavy police force was deployed at the factory on Wednesday morning, he said.

Other videos streamed live also showed a crowd of armed police at the site.

Another newly recruited employee told the BBC he visited the protest on Wednesday where he “saw a man lying on the ground covered in blood”.

“I don’t know why people are protesting, but they are mixing us new employees with old employees who were [Covid] positive,” he told the BBC.

Foxconn, a Taiwanese company, is Apple’s main contractor and its factory in Zhengzhou assembles more iPhones than anywhere else in the world.

Several workers fled the factory in late October amid a surge in Covid cases and allegations of staff mistreatment, their escape captured on social media as they returned by truck to their hometowns elsewhere in China’s central province.
Foxconn then tried to persuade employees to stay and recruit new employees by offering higher wages and bonuses.

The company has since implemented so-called closed-loop operations at the plant – now isolated from the wider city of Zhengzhou due to the Covid outbreak there.

Earlier this month, Apple said it expected fewer shipments of iPhone 14 models due to production lag in Zhengzhou.

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