Protests at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China, the main supplier of Apple’s iPhone 14 smartphones, have descended into violence, as the plant struggles with the pressure of production ahead of the holiday season while also dealing with a major Covid-19 outbreak.
Numerous videos show brutal clashes between factory workers and authorities (dressed in what appear to be white Covid-protection suits) armed with batons. Clips, some of which were livestreamed by factory workers themselves before Chinese censors took them offline, show workers bloodied and hobbling, while others rush offices and Covid testing centers at the giant production facility.
A perfect storm
According to workers speaking to the Financial Times, the protests were intended as a peaceful discussion about ongoing poor conditions at Foxconn, but executives failed to show for the talks and instead called the police.
Foxconn, which is usually home to some 200,000 workers, is experiencing a perfect storm of pressures at the moment. Apple, its main customer, is looking to secure its supply lines ahead of the busy holiday gifting period — over 95 percent of iPhones are made in China, with the Zhengzhou plant responsible for a large amount of that work.
But a large scale Covid-19 outbreak has upended production at the plant. Foxconn has reportedly denied bonuses to those who have been forced into quarantine before hitting assembly lines. That financial penalty, paired with only rudimentary living quarters and the ongoing fear of Covid infection and its potential effect on workers’ employment, is thought to have brought the situation to boiling point.
For Apple, the situation represents great uncertainty for its vital holiday quarter. iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro shipments are already experiencing long delays for prospective customers, leading to Apple issuing a warning to its investors.
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Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 14 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system.
Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar, Space.com, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews, Mirror.co.uk, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.