Stick-wielding men smash surveillance cameras at China iPhone plant

SHANGHAI, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Men wielding batons smashed surveillance cameras and windows at a huge Apple-owned campus (AAPL.O) Foxconn supplier (2317.TW) in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, scenes streamed live on Kuaishou’s short video platform were released on Wednesday.

Hundreds of workers demonstrated on campus, home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, where many chanted “give us our wages”. They were surrounded by people in hazmat suits, some carrying batons.

The footage, which could not immediately be verified by Reuters, comes after weeks of unrest that saw dozens of workers flee the plant because of COVID-19 checks.

Many former workers spoke of food shortages and rigid quarantine rules, and Foxconn had to offer incentives, including bonuses, to retain or attract workers. Read more

Several people said on live streams that they were protesting after being told this week that they would receive their bonuses later than originally planned.

“Foxconn never treats humans like humans,” one person said in footage of the scenes on social media.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said there had been protests at the Zhengzhou campus, but declined to provide further details.

Foxconn and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By 05:15 GMT most of the footage had been taken down. Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.

Some videos showed people tearing down barriers set up in quarantine zones as part of China’s zero COVID policy, or arguing with staff in hazmat suits.

Other videos showed workers complaining about the food provided to them during quarantine or complaining that curbs in place were inadequate to contain an outbreak.

Relentless checks and ad hoc lockdowns across China have fueled discontent across the country, hitting economic growth and increasing concerns about global supply chains as companies scramble to keep factories running as staff are infected.

Foxconn has maintained so-called closed-loop operations at the plant — a system in which staff live and work onsite isolated from the rest of the world — due to COVID outbreaks in Zhengzhou.

Brakes and discontent have plagued production, prompting Apple to say earlier this month that it expected lower shipments of premium iPhone 14 models.

Foxconn, formerly Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is Apple’s largest iPhone maker, accounting for 70% of iPhone shipments globally. It makes most of the phones from the Zhengzhou factory where it employs around 200,000 people, although it has other smaller production sites in India and southern China.

Reporting by Brenda Goh and the Beijing Newsroom; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen and Yimou Lee in Taipei; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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