November 27, 2022

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Workers strike at China’s biggest iPhone factory

11/23/2022 at 2:28 PM / Updated 11/23/2022 at 2:28 PM

(Credit: STR / AFP)

Violent protests for better wages and living conditions are taking place in central China, with clashes between workers and security agents at the world’s largest iPhone factory owned by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

Videos posted on social media Weibo and Twitter showed workers protesting in broad daylight in Zhengzhou, some clashing with riot police and people in protective suits. Foxconn confirmed the disruption on Wednesday (23).

Images shared with AFP And footage of a factory worker shows a man lying limp on the floor with a bloodstained coat over his head in an apparent attempt to treat the wound.

In another video, dozens of people in hazmat suits can be seen chasing staff with batons, one of whom is knocked to the ground before appearing to be kicked in the head.

The worker, who shared the videos, estimated that around 20 people were injured in the clash, with some taken to hospital. He requested anonymity to protect his safety.

Clashes erupted after workers who had signed a contract with the factory to work at least 30 days in exchange for a one-time payment of 3,000 yuan ($420) suddenly saw that number drop to just 30 yuan, he told AFP.

He said many workers were outraged by the “chaotic” living conditions and had “not received food” from the company since Tuesday.

Some employees who tested negative for Covid-19 were ordered to work alongside colleagues who tested positive and were not isolated, the worker said.

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Foxconn explained that workers were complaining about wages and conditions at the factory, but denied forcing new employees to work alongside employees infected with Covid-19.

“Regarding the violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the Taiwanese tech giant said in a statement.

China’s “Zero Covid” policy, with weeks of lockdowns at factories and universities and a ban on free travel, is fueling fatigue and resentment among a wide swath of the population.

“They’re hitting people, they’re hitting people, you know that?”

Another video shot at the same location shows dozens of workers confronting police and chanting, “Defend our rights!” is shown shouting, while another voice speaks of “smoke bombs” and “tear smoke”.

The Weibo hashtag “Foxconn riots” appeared to have been censored by midday Wednesday, although some posts referencing the protests remained online.

Attention to disturbances

Apple’s main contractor has seen a rise in Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou factory in recent months and has decided to close the vast industrial complex to contain the virus.

Located in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province (center), the factory is a large industrial park dubbed “iPhone City” that regularly employs about 200,000 people, most of whom live in dormitories.

Apple admitted this month that it had “temporarily affected” production at the Taiwanese company’s crown jewel, which has iPhone production nowhere else.

Foxconn is China’s largest private company, employing over one million people in 30 factories and research institutes across the country.

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China is the last major economy in the world to maintain a zero-covid policy through mass lockdowns, tests and long quarantines.

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