Foxconn workers protest over pay and lockdowns at iPhone factory in China
Contractor apologizes for 'technical error occurred during the onboarding process'
Updated Protests have erupted at Foxconn, the largest contract supplier for Apple's iPhone, as workers voice complaints over pay and working conditions following new draconian COVID-19 measures.
According to multiple reports and social media posts, hundreds of protesters gathered at the company's massive facility in Zhengzhou, China, smashing surveillance cameras and windows.
Protests began Wednesday evening, local time, with some workers chanting "Give us our pay" and others complaining they had been shut in dorms with colleagues who had tested positive for COVID-19. Staff have also complained of insufficient food on site during the lockdown measures.
Foxconn denied the reports in a statement to the media. "Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again," the company said.
Manufacturing at the plant was said to be unaffected by the unrest as production remained "normal."
One reporter took to Twitter to document workers facing riot police after they marched from their dorms to demand compensation. They tried to livestream on Douyin and Kuaishou, but feeds were cut immediately. According to reports, workers were bussed into the site believing the COVID outbreak was under control but were instead consigned to an eight-person quarantine room.
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News agency AFP reported that a video clip showed dozens of workers at night shouting "Defend our rights! Defend our rights!" as they confronted police officers.
The report also said police used teargas and smoke bombs to clear the protest.
Earlier this week, The Financial Times reported that Foxconn worked with Chinese authorities to recruit from villages. They transported workers into the facility after employees left last month following a COVID-19 outbreak.
Zhengzhou plant, which employed about 200,000 people prior to the COVID outbreak, has introduced "closed-loop" operations under which staff live and work on site, cut off from the world outside. Some former workers said that thousands have since left the factory campus. The manufacturer has been forced to offer bonuses and raise salaries in order to lure replacement staff.
Other reports said local authorities had urged retired soldiers and government workers to replace fleeing workers at one of China's largest manufacturing facilities. ®
Updated to add:
Foxconn has since released a statement to multiple outlets stating that a "technical error occurred during the onboarding process."
It added: "We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual pay is the same as agreed and the official recruitment posters." It gave no further detail on the error.
Apple told us in a statement: "We have Apple team members on the ground at our supplier Foxconn's Zhengzhou facility. We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees' concerns are addressed."