An unprecedented protest flooded social networks in China, a country where demonstrations of this type are not allowed. Thousands of workers at Foxconn, the world’s main Iphone factory, clashed with security guards in protest of non-payment of wages and the harsh restrictions in which they have lived since October due to outbreaks of COVID-19.
“Give us our pay!” chanted the workers, who were surrounded by people in full protective suits, some with batons, according to video footage.
— 方舟子 (@fangshimin) November 23, 2022
According to Reuters, the trigger for the protests, which began early on Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay payment of premiumsaccording to the protesters’ complaints.
Other recordings showed how tear gas was fired, while workers broke windows and surveillance cameras.
In the huge factory foxconnwhich is like an industrial city located in Zhengzhou, they work more than 300 thousand peoplewho have been living inside the facility since October due to the strict Zero Covid policy ordered by the Xi Jinping regime.
Due to several infections, the supplier of Apple Inc, imposed the so-called closed loop systemwhich implies that the staff lives and works in isolation in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and, above all, not slow down production.
Foxconn is Apple’s largest iPhone maker, with 70% of iPhone shipments worldwide. It makes most of its phones at the Zhengzhou plant, though it has smaller production centers in India and southern China.
This confinement, and the harsh conditions in which the employees would be, caused thousands of them to stampede from the factory at the end of October.
On that occasion, images of workers jumping fences with suitcases and backpacks and walking back to their cities of origin along the roads were disseminated, since they did not have the green health code (free of COVID-19) that is needed to use transportation. public.
Workers have broken out of #Manzana‘s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to home towns more than 100 kilometers away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/NHjOjclAyU
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
The Dutch NGO GlobalVoices, which collected several testimonies, points out that at that time many workers received messages of help from their colleagues in quarantine, complaining that there was not adequate care.
“My test came back positive and they put me in quarantine. I have a roommate, she’s already been in quarantine for five days, and no one has shown up to take care of her. In my bedroom, there are people coughing and feverish. We don’t matter to anyone. Yesterday they gave us two slices of bread […] I don’t know what to do and I feel like they have left me here to fight for my survival.” He says.
After the escape of the workers, Foxconn announced an increase in daily wages to attract employees and bonuses so that those who had left would return, but apparently the company would not have complied with it, which is why the protests broke out this Wednesday .
Shares in Foxconn, formally called Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, have fallen 2% since the unrest emerged in late October.
According to the Chinese media consulted by RFI, the plant even needs 100,000 workers to normalize the production chain and be able to have the new Iphones ready for Christmas.
“There is a huge labor shortage at Foxconn. Each town has to send at least one person to the factory. They called me to ask if I wanted to continue working until I received my bonus. It is the government people who are directly involved in the recruitment”, explains a worker to the French media.
Among the models most affected by the situation are the assembly of the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone Pro Max, according to the Global Times.
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