Beijing: Hundreds of workers protested at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China where men and women were captured in the footage marching with some of them confronted by people in Hazmat suits and riot police, Reuters reported citing videos circulated on social media. The protests in China mark an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in Zhengzhou city.
The workers were frustrated with the delayed bonus payments, as the demonstrators said on Livestream feeds. The videos could not be immediately verified by Reuters. This protest symbolizes a dangerous build-up of frustration with the country’s ultra-harsh COVID rules as well as the inept handling of the situation by the world’s largest contract manufacturer.
The workers surrounded by people in full Hazmat suits with some carrying batons, chanted “Give us our pay!” according to the footage showed. While another footage showed tear gas being deployed and workers taking down quarantine barriers. Some workers had complained that they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for COVID-19, Reuters reported.
Refuting the allegations, Foxconn said in a statement it had fulfilled its payment contracts and that reports of infected staff living on campus with new recruits were “untrue”. “Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the company added.
Meanwhile, after the footage of protests went viral on Chinese Twitter Weibo, Foxconn said on Wednesday it will continue to communicate with employees and the government to avoid violent incidents from happening again, The Strait Times reported. The unrest broke out as workers clashed with security personnel over Covid-19 restrictions at the plant.
Earlier, a similar incident was reported in China’s Zhengzhou city in October. Droves of migrant workers have been fleeing back to their hometowns from the country’s largest iPhone factory in Covid-hit Zhengzhou, amidst a lockdown triggered by the Covid outbreak.
“Workers have broken out of #Apple’s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to hometowns more than 100 kilometers away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China,” tweeted Stephen McDonell, BBC’s correspondent in China.
Videos shared on Chinese social media showed people jumping a fence outside the plant, owned by manufacturer Foxconn, in the central city of Zhengzhou. It was previously reported that a number of workers had been placed under quarantine because of an outbreak of the disease.
According to McDonell, “Zhengzhou Foxconn hires approximately around 300,000 workers and makes half of the world’s iPhones”. Amidst Covid lockdown chaos and food shortages, videos on Douyin, a Chinese video-hosting service show many migrant workers from within Henan province returning home on foot as no public transport is available due to the lockdown.