by DON McINTOSH
Foxconn’s massive iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, has been rocked by a worker uprising over unpaid wages and inhuman conditions.
Foxconn makes up to 70% of iPhones globally, and most of them at the Zhengzhou plant, which has had as many as 200,000 workers.
Starting Nov. 23, videos posted to Chinese social media showed workers smashing surveillance cameras and windows and engaging in fierce battles with security forces. In the videos, workers also complain of delayed pay, insufficient food, and a lack of medical treatment during COVID outbreaks. There’s very little press freedom in China, and the videos were taken down soon after being posted.
The unrest stems in part from severe restrictions that were imposed in late October after a COVID outbreak. Staff already live and work on the site, and now were forbidden to return to the outside world. That caused tens of thousands of workers to flee, and led local authorities to ask retired soldiers and government workers to take jobs at the plant. Foxconn offered to quadruple daily bonuses for workers who returned—up to $55 a day—but then apparently reneged on the promised bonuses, saying the bonuses wouldn’t be paid until March and May.
The protests effectively shut down the already slowed production at the plant, which is worsening shortages of the new iPhone 14 Pro and could cost Apple $1 billion a week in lost iPhone sales.