iPhone Factory Workers Beaten During Protest at Foxconn’s China Plant

Police beat workers protesting over a wage dispute at Apple’s biggest iPhone factory, whose new model is being delayed by restrictions imposed as China tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Foxconn, a major maker of smartphones and other electronics, is struggling to fill orders for the iPhone 14 after thousands of workers left a factory in the central city of Zhengzhou last month following complaints about unsafe working conditions.

China’s status as an export powerhouse is based on industries like Foxconn’s that include consumer electronics, toys and other goods.

The ruling Communist Party is trying to contain the latest wave of outbreaks without shutting down factories and its entire economy as it did in early 2020. Its tactics include “closed management,” where workers live outside their factories. contacts.

Foxconn has offered higher wages to attract more workers at its Zhengzhou factory to assemble the iPhone 14, which retails starting at $799 (roughly Rs. 65,270) in the United States.

On Tuesday, a protest broke out after workers who had traveled long distances to find jobs at the factory complained that the company had changed the terms of wages, according to worker Li Sanshan.

Li said he quit his job as a cook when he saw an ad offering CNY 25,000 (about Rs. 2.8 lakh) for two months of work. That would be a huge increase in the average salary for this type of work in the area.

After the workers arrived, the company said they had to work two more months for less money to earn CNY 25,000 (about Rs. 2.8 lakh), according to Li.

“Foxconn issued attractive recruitment offers, workers came from all over the country, and found out they were being cheated,” he said.

Online videos showed thousands of masked people facing lines of police in white protective suits with plastic shields. The police kicked and beat the protester with batons after he grabbed the metal pole he had been beating with. The people who shot the video said it was shot on location.

The protests in Zhengzhou come as the ruling Communist Party faces growing frustration over restrictions across China that have closed shops and offices and confined millions of people to their homes.

That has turned into protests in other cities. Videos on social media show residents tearing down barriers set up to enforce neighborhood closures.

The ruling party promised this month that it would try to reduce disruptions by shortening solitary confinement and making other changes. But the group is sticking to a “zero-COVID” strategy that aims to isolate all cases while other governments relax controls and try to live with the virus.

The protest in Zhengzhou dragged on Wednesday morning as thousands of workers gathered outside the dormitories and clashed with the factory’s security forces, according to Li.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company previously warned that deliveries of the iPhone 14 would be delayed after access to the industrial zone surrounding the Zhengzhou plant, which Foxconn says employs 200,000 people, was suspended following the outbreak of violence.

Other videos show protesters throwing fire extinguishers at police.

A self-proclaimed Communist Party secretary in charge of public services was shown in a video posted on social media site Sina Weibo urging protesters to withdraw. He assured them that their demands would be fulfilled.

Foxconn, headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, said its contractual obligations regarding the payments “have been met.”

The company denied that it was commenting online that infected workers were living in dormitories at the Zhengzhou factory. It said the facilities were disinfected and passed government checks before workers entered.

“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” said the company’s statement.

Foxconn offered CNY 10,000 (about Rs. 1.1 lakh) to newly hired employees who wanted to quit and return home, financial news outlet Cailianshe said, citing unidentified agents.

Foxconn did not respond to a request for confirmation or details.

Protests have intensified as the number and severity of outbreaks have increased across China, prompting places including Beijing, the capital, to lock down neighborhoods and impose other restrictions that residents say go beyond what the national government has allowed.

More than 253,000 cases have been detected in the past three weeks and the daily average is increasing, the government said on Tuesday. This week, authorities reported China’s first COVID-19 death in six months.

The government will implement its anti-COVID policy while “resolutely defeating the concept of disability and laxity,” said National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng.

At the beginning of Thursday, the government reported the number of 31,656 cases detected in the last 24 hours, including 27,646 without symptoms and 212 infections that were detected abroad. The total is up nearly 10 percent from the previous day.

Also on Thursday, people in eight counties of Zhengzhou with a population of 6.6 million were told to stay at home for five days, only going out to buy food or for medical treatment. Daily mass testing was ordered in what the city government called a “war of extermination” against the virus.

The city government of Guangzhou, the epicenter of the worst outbreak, announced on Wednesday that it has opened 19 temporary hospitals with nearly 70,000 beds for coronavirus patients. The city announced plans last week to build hospitals and quarantine facilities for 250,000 people.

Also on Wednesday, Beijing opened a hospital in the exhibition center and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a case of the virus was discovered there. Earlier, the capital closed shopping malls and office buildings and stopped access to some residential areas.

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