SK hynix pitches tents at Chinese factory to house workers in case of lockdowns

City of Wuxi trying its best to keep factories open amid COVID outbreak

South Korean chipmaker SK hynix has pitched hundreds of tents at its plant in Wuxi, China,

The company's Wuxi plant can produce 180,000 silicon wafers each month – a significant slice of global capacity. Needless to say, making all those wafers is hard if workers can't get to the factory, and right now that looks like a distinct possibility. On July 4, Wuxi's city government imposed movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The government has allowed manufacturing to continue, with precautions in place, and is talking up its measures to ensure that factories can continue operations.

But past lockdowns in other Chinese cities have been strict and lengthy. Shanghai locked down for over ten weeks, during which time residents' movement was severely restricted and China clamped down on social media posts that complained about the quantity and quality of food provided to households.

Even industrial production was halted in Shanghai, denting the world's wireless hardware supply and causing balance sheet pain at Cisco.

It's therefore understandable that SK hynix has pitched hundreds of tents at its Wuxi plant – so workers can stay at work, even if locked down. News of the encampment emerged when Korean media spotted posts to WeChat that carry the photo below.

Locating workers on-site to ensure the availability of labor during lockdowns is not new. Vietnam's government ordered workers to live on-site during COVID lockdowns and the likes of Samsung and Intel quickly found ways to house thousands of workers.

Reports emerged that conditions were not great, and workers were unhappy. Those gripes were attributed in part to factory operators rushing to arrange facilities for on-site staff.

SK hynix appears to have tried to get in early, although the facilities depicted above look far from luxurious.

Nonetheless, the devices you buy weeks or months from now may only exist thanks to the staff who'll be required to live and work there. ®


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