Workers who staff Apple’s main China iPhone production factory have reportedly had enough of alleged broken promises and unpaid work. Dramatic videos capture the scene as thousands of workers stormed the iPhone factory campus overnight, breaking through barricades and security checkpoints. Reports say protesters were beaten back by police and security forces who pummeled protesters with shields and batons and covered streets with tear gas.
Videos show protesters fighting police and security personnel, most of the latter dressed up in white head-to-toe white hazmat suits. Other videos show protesters pushing past barricades in a large wave, and more posted online show protesters destroying security checkpoints at the iPhone factory, which is owned and operated by the Taiwan-based Foxconn.
The video here can get pretty graphic, so be aware of that before clicking.
Bloomberg reported, based on an unnamed witness, that the protests were over the overwhelming covid restrictions as well as unpaid wages. AP cited a worker at the plant named Li Sanshan who said he had been promised 25,000 yuan, or $3,500 for two months work at the factory, but then Foxconn reportedly flipped the script and told workers they would need to do an extra two months at lower pay to receive that initial promised amount.
Further reports from Reuters mentioned that those livestreaming the protests said workers were forced to live in dormitories with those who were sick with covid.
In the videos, workers can be heard shouting “give us our pay.” Those watching the protests from the sidelines or from balconies above the chaos also shouted “fight, fight” according to Bloomberg.
In a statement provided to Gizmodo, Foxconn said that on Tuesday, some new hires “appealed to the company regarding the work allowance, which they had doubts about.” Foxconn claimed that workers allowances have “always been fulfilled based on contractual obligations.” The company also denied that those who tested positive for covid were forced to live in dormitories with those who tested negative, adding that the dorms were disinfected before workers moved in, per government regulations.
Workers at the plant are in a closed-loop setting, meaning they live and work at the plant in order to prevent any covid outbreaks and to avoid covid-related restrictions. Apple has previously indicated that restrictions at the Zhengzhou plant caused production delays for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
China’s “zero-covid” policy has caused quite a lot of headaches and heartache for citizens all across the country, and has caused major production delays for Apple’s iPhones this year. Last month, the Foxconn plant experienced a rash of new covid cases, though the company claimed that the situation had been under control and that only “a small number” of employees were infected. Zhengzhou had already experienced a crushing lockdown the week before, after the city saw a dozen new cases in a single day.