By Simone Del Rosario (Business Correspondent), Ryan Tiedgen (Editor), Brent Jabbour (Producer)
Workers clashed with police at the world’s biggest iPhone production plant amid protests over compensation and COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday. Videos on social media authenticated by the Associated Press showed authorities beating employees at the Foxconn facility in Zhengzhou, China.
One of the videos circulating online show dozens of riot police officers storming the factory before confronting the employees who had torn down at least one fence.
Employees have been forced to live at the facility with no outside contact due to China’s “zero-COVD” strategy. The Chinese Communist Party is attempting to stop the spread of the virus in the nation without shutting down factories as it did in 2020, which deeply affected its economic growth.
Thousands of Foxconn employees walked off the job last month due to complaints over the lockdowns and the assertion that those who became ill were not receiving treatment.
The company offered higher pay and bonuses to attract more workers to the factory, but an employee, Li Sanshan, told the Associated Press that employees who traveled long distances to Zhengzhou arrived to find the company had changed the terms of their pay.
Foxconn said in a statement it is fulfilling its contractual obligations to the employees.
“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn said.
The company also took issue with claims that employees who tested positive for COVID-19 are living in the provided dormitories with non-positive workers, saying it is “patently untrue.”
The protests deliver another major disruption for Apple products ahead of the holiday shopping season. Apple previously issued a statement in early November warning lockdowns in Zhengzhou would affect its ability to fulfill timely iPhone 14 orders.
“COVID-19 restrictions have temporarily impacted the primary iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly facility located in Zhengzhou, China,” the company wrote on Nov. 6. “The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity.”
Apple added that it expects “lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”