The Chinese communist regime remains steadfast in adopting the zero COVID policy despite the great harm it has caused to the economy and its citizens.
Factories were forced to use closed-loop management to operate, in which workers live and stay in factories and have no contact with the outside world. Such arrangements cause difficulties for businesses to function normally.
At the end of October, a COVID outbreak hit the Zhengzhou plant, forcing it into lockdown. Its workers accused the factory of poor living conditions and lack of food. As a result, anxious workers fled the locked-down facility, leaving Foxconn in chaos.
Foxconn later started a massive recruitment campaign in which more than 100,000 registered to fill the advertised positions.
Foxconn promised the workers a 3,000 yuan or $420 bonus after 30 days on the job, with another $420 to be paid after 60 days.
But a worker told CNN that Foxconn changed their rule; the firm said they would only receive the first bonus on March 15 and the second in May next year.
Workers must work through the Lunar New Year holiday starting in January 2023 to get the first bonus payments.
The worker said, “The new recruits had to work more days to get the bonus they were promised, so they felt cheated.”
As a result, on the night of November 22, on the Foxconn campus, workers protested over the terms of the new hire payment packages. Foxconn should have ensured COVID safety for workers as promised when recruiting.
According to Reuters, on November 23, again workers were seen streaming out of dormitories.
One worker said, “I’m really scared about this place. We all could be COVID-positive now.”
Another worried, “You are sending us to [our] death.”
Some workers complained that they were forced to share dormitories with positive-tested co-workers.
People in hazmat suits surround workers.
Many chanted, “Give us our pay!”
Tens of thousands of employees confronted a large number of armed police. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, and some smashed surveillance cameras and windows.
In response, police officers beat up protesters.
In one video, police dragged two workers away before beating them up. The police repeatedly kicked and beat a worker with batons.
Several workers said, ‘Foxconn tricked us. We didn’t want to cause trouble. We were defending our rights. The police beat us.’
More than 40 employees were arrested. A few workers escaped, but their heads were all bloodied.
Workers hadn’t given up yet, the protests continued to erupt because many were injured, and the workers wanted to seek justice for their suffering colleagues.
Videos show a large number of workers participating in the protest. They angrily confront the police. Netizens called the protest of Zhengzhou Foxconn workers “the largest protest since June 4 “. Many people worried that the military and police would more brutally suppress them.
To ease the situation, Foxxcon apologized for the incident. The company said, “Our team has been looking into the matter and discovered a technical error occurred during the onboarding process.”
The firm also promised to pay the actual payment as agreed.
According to CNN, the firm promised to pay them about $1,120 if they agreed to quit Foxconn and another $280 after they board buses to leave the sprawling site altogether.
On November 24, Thursday morning, some workers who had agreed to leave received the first part of the payment.
According to the South China Morning Post, Kuo Ming-chi, an analyst covering Apple at TF International Securities, wrote on his blog on November 29 that the plant’s production “was significantly affected by laborers’ protests.” He added that only 20% of the factory’s capacity was used in November.
Over Black Friday, Apple iPhone 14 supplies couldn’t meet customer demand. This would likely lead to severe product shortages for the upcoming Christmas shopping season.
Managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, Daniel Ives, said that iPhone 14 Pro shortages have worsened. He predicted many Apple Stores were in very low inventories, with iPhone 14 Pro up to 25%-30% below a typical December.
Daniel Ives said, “Every week of this shutdown and unrest we estimate is costing Apple roughly $1 billion a week in lost iPhone sales. Now roughly 5% of iPhone 14 sales are likely off the table due to these brutal shutdowns in China.”
Barry Naughton, a professor in Chinese economics at the University of California San Diego, told Bloomberg that Beijing is placing significant pressure on local authorities to achieve contradictory goals.
He said, “The tension is that Beijing wants both Covid Zero and full economic growth.”
“It’s kind of impossible.”