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Trouble between workers and police in China’s iPhone town

Violent clashes took place at Foxconn’s number one iPhone assembly plant in Chengdu, China. Several video recordings were made of the demonstration, which was drowning in violence in some places. Hundreds of workers took to the streets due to the non-payment of bonuses promised by Foxconn, inadequate food and medical care for the workers locked in the factory, as well as the company’s mismanagement of the Covid situation, the coexistence of infected and non-infected workers, literally breaking out of the fenced from factory.

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At the beginning of November, the Chinese authorities ordered closures and restrictions in Zhengzhou, i.e. the iPhone city. Uncharacteristically, Apple indicated in a press release that the supply of iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max devices is affected by the closures, there will be a longer waiting list and fewer devices for the Christmas season. The California company’s supplier, Foxconn, tried to keep its workers at the factory by promising a monthly bonus of between 1,500 yuan and 15,000 yuan to those who did not leave the assembly plant. This sum of between 80,000 and 800,000 HUF in European forints can be up to 1,000% of the salary of some workers. The Chinese government’s Covid regulations allow for closed-loop production, meaning that the workers stay in the factory 24 hours a day during the city’s quarantine, sleeping, eating and working there, thereby maintaining the expected production volume. Several of Foxconn’s 300,000 local workers tried to escape from this, and those who remained faced further problems within the production line.

A meal at a Foxconn plant under Covid lockdown. (source: Getty Images / BBC) [+]

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Foxconn was unable to accommodate its workers and separate the patients, even though several canteens were closed. According to the workers, the company also did not provide sufficient care, neither medical nor food, the workers literally broke out of the closed factory. Among the local law enforcement forces, according to the reports, riot police and armed police were also sent to the scene, in the footage published by the BBC, workers are seen tearing down cordons and throwing pieces of it at the police.

Foxconn denies reports of unpaid bonuses, saying it fulfills all its obligations to workers. The company also stated that the management is working closely with the local authorities in order to avoid further violent movements. The company also denies that it accommodates those with a positive Covid-19 test together with its workers who produce a negative test result.

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This is not the first time in China that workers at a factory have started protesting and clashing with the police. The reason for this is the local Covid-zero policy, which allows entire cities to be closed down overnight even with a low level of infection – on October 31, for example, a lot of people were stuck in Disneyland in Shanghai – and factories to be switched to closed-loop operation. The longest time so far was a month, which was produced in this way by a plant. However, the Chinese government has so far given no indication that it would reconsider its Covid policy, nor that it would switch to another vaccine instead of its own, low-efficiency vaccines.

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