China: Workers protest, beaten in virus-hit factory, Foxconn confirms ‘violence’


Under the strict Zero Covid policy of the Chinese government, several incidences of violent protest by commoners have emerged from time to time. One of them was confirmed by the Foxconn authorities, wherein workers emerged in protest and were beaten in the coronavirus-hit factory. 

Hundreds of workers at Apple Inc.’s main iPhone-making plant in China clashed with security personnel, as tensions boiled over after almost a month under tough restrictions intended to quash a Covid outbreak.

Foxconn on Wednesday confirmed the occurrence of the outbreak of “violence” at its vast plant in central China, after footage emerged of workers clashing with security personnel in protests at the factory.

The protest started overnight over unpaid wages and fears of spreading infection, according to the witness, asking to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions. Several workers were injured and anti-riot police arrived on the scene Wednesday to restore order, the person added.

“Current production at Foxconn’s iPhone plant in China’s Zhengzhou is unaffected by worker unrest and production remains ‘normal'”, a person familiar with the matter had told Reuters on Wednesday. The unrest was carried out by newly recruited workers, the person added.

In a statement, the company said workers had complained about pay and conditions at the plant, but denied it had housed new recruits with Covid-positive staff at the Zhengzhou factory, the world’s largest producer of iPhones.

“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the Taiwanese tech giant said in a statement.

In videos shared on Weibo and Twitter, hundreds of workers can be seen marching on a road in daylight, with some being confronted by riot police and people in hazmat suits.

Footage emerged of panicking workers fleeing the site en masse on foot in the wake of allegations of poor conditions at the facility.

The Taiwanese tech giant, Apple’s principal subcontractor, has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases at its Zhengzhou site, leading the company to shutter the vast complex in a bid to keep the virus in check.

Since then, the huge facility of about 200,000 workers, dubbed “iPhone City”, has been operating in a “closed loop” bubble.

Multiple employees later recounted to AFP scenes of chaos and disorganisation at the complex of workshops and dormitories.

According to Bloomberg, workers at the Foxconn Technology Group plant streamed out of dormitories in the early hours of Wednesday, jostling and pushing past the white-clad guards they vastly outnumbered, according to videos sent by a witness to portions of the protest.

Several white-suited people pummeled a person lying on the ground with sticks in another clip. Onlookers yelled “fight, fight!” as throngs of people forced their way past barricades. At one point, several surrounded an occupied police car and began rocking the vehicle while screaming incoherently.

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