Hundreds of workers at Apple’s iPhone factory in China protested over stressful and restraining COVID-19 restrictions as well as a lack of pay.
Workers at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou clashed with security early Wednesday after alleging that new employees were forced to bunk with infected employees. Apple contracts their contract manufacturing out to Foxconn, making the Zhengzhou factory a critical facility in iPhone production.
“Give us our pay,” the workers chanted in video clips posted to social media, according to Reuters. The workers were then surrounded by people in hazmat suits and were attacked with tear gas and batons. Armed police eventually got involved in quelling the protests.
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Workers claimed on video that the spark of the protests was a plan to delay bonus payments. Foxconn denied such claims, alleging that it had fulfilled its payment contracts and that allegations of the company forcing new employees to live with infected staff are untrue.
“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn added in a statement.
The Zhengzhou factory was one of several tech-related factories where workers had to stay isolated in company-operated dorms to minimize exposure to the coronavirus.
The Foxconn protest is not the first outbreak of anger from Chinese employees over COVID-19 restrictions. Hundreds of workers fought with security in May at Quanta Computer’s Shanghai factory after being barred from leaving the factory for months.
Employees have been escaping the facility since October over allegations of a COVID-19 outbreak.
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The Zhengzhou factory is one of the most important factories in the Apple supply chain. The factory accounts for an estimated four out of every five iPhone devices, according to Bloomberg.