China: riots in main iPhone factory in world reveal limits of zero covid

Foxconn workers, the main subcontractor of Apple, denounced promises of premiums not held by the company and the conditions of quarantine of new arrivals.

by Simon Leplâtre (Shanghai, Correspondence) and Alexandre Piquard

Lighted by the pale light of the lampposts, a compact crowd of workers brandishing iron bars backs a small troop of police officers, wrapped in white combinations. On the many videos of these scenes shared on social networks, the blows are raining and the cries sound: “the police strike people”, “pay our wages”, “at low foxconn”, or “defend your rights”. Since Tuesday, November 22 and for at least forty-eight hours, thousands of workers from Foxconn, who notably have assembled the iPhone of Apple, have protested to request the payment of premiums promised for new recruits, while production is production Disturbed by restrictions linked to zero covid policy. Other videos, quickly censored, show workers copiously beaten by men in white, embarked by the police or wounded.

After two days of clashes, Foxconn decided to buy social peace by proposing, Thursday, November 24, 10,000 yuan (1,340 euros), or two months of wages, to those who would choose to return home . The company also apologized: “We apologize for an error in entry in the computer system and guarantee that the effective salary corresponds to what has been promised on recruitment advertisements,” the company announced in a press release . The error should cost Foxconn and Apple dearly, which depends on the Zhengzhou factory for 80 % of its latest iPhone 14. At the beginning of November, the apple brand had already recognized production delays because of the COVVI- 19 within the giant Zhengzhou campus, nicknamed “iPhone City”.

At the end of October, in fact, tens of thousands of Foxconn employees had fled the site where COVVI-19 cases multiplied, denouncing the chaotic management of the situation: Spartan conditions, lack of food and lack of responsiveness for prevent the dissemination of the epidemic. A real city in the city, with around 200,000 employees, the Foxconn factory operated in a closed circuit since the first cases recorded in mid-October. Images broadcast on the networks showed workers climbing the campus barriers before taking the road on foot on tens of kilometers to go home. Since then, Foxconn has launched a large recruitment campaign, in the middle of the production season of iPhone, as Christmas approaches. The company had increased wages and promised attractive bonuses, of 3,000 yuan (402 euros) per employee.

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/Media reports cited above.