Employees at the world’s biggest Apple iPhone factory in Zhengzhou engaged in protests over their pay amidst anti-virus controls on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
Tensions have mounted over Chinese efforts to combat a renewed rise in COVID-19 infections.
Frustration with restrictions in areas throughout China triggered the protests. As part of China’s measures to deal with COVID, shops as well as offices have been closed and millions of people have been confined to their homes.
The ruling Communist Party pledged this month to reduce disruptions by limiting quarantines and making other alterations.
However, the Party is adhering to a “zero-COVID” strategy that aims to isolate every COVID case whereas governments in other countries have relaxed restrictions and made efforts to live with the virus.
Last month, thousands of employees walked out of the iPhone factory operated by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group over complaints about unsafe working conditions following virus cases.
The company then recruited new workers with the promise of generous bonuses. There were complaints that Foxconn had promised a higher salary for these new employees but changed the contract. This also caused the protests.
Foxconn, headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, said in a statement the “work allowance” has “always been fulfilled based on contractual obligation.”
Foxconn denied that employees with the virus lived in dormitories at the Zhengzhou factory. It emphasized that facilities were disinfected and passed government checks before employees moved in.
“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the company statement revealed.
Foxconn disclosed earlier that its Zhengzhou factory uses “closed-loop management,” which means employees live at their workplace with no outside contact.
The protest lasted through this morning as thousands of workers gathered outside dormitories and confronted factory security workers.
Covid-19 Cases Escalate In China
The number and severity of COVID outbreaks have soared across China, prompting authorities in areas including Beijing, the capital, to close neighborhoods and enforce other restrictions that residents say go beyond what the national government allows.
The government reported that more than 253,000 cases have been found in the past three weeks and the daily average is increasing. This week, authorities reported China’s first COVID-19 deaths in six months.
On Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the government reported 28,883 cases found over the past 24 hours, including 26,242 with no symptoms. Henan province, where Zhengzhou is the capital, reported 851 in total.
A spokesman for the National Health Commission, Mi Feng, noted that the government will enforce its anti-COVID policy while “resolutely overcoming the mindset of paralysis and laxity.”
The city government of Guangzhou, the site of the biggest outbreaks, pronounced that it has opened 19 temporary hospitals with a total of almost 70,000 beds for coronavirus patients.
The city announced plans last week to build hospital and quarantine facilities for 250,000 people.
Also, Beijing opened a hospital in an exhibition center and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a virus case was found there.
The capital earlier closed shopping malls and office buildings and suspended access to some apartment compounds.
Also, the city government suspended access to an industrial zone that surrounds the factory, which Foxconn has said employs 200,000 people.
Apple Inc. has given a notice that deliveries of its new iPhone 14 model would be delayed due to anti-disease controls at the factory.