More than 20,000 employees have left the Apple supplier Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday that the majority of those employees have only recently been hired. Production was supposed to have resumed in full by the end of November, but this has been made difficult after such a loss, the insider said.
The Taiwanese company had only admitted "technical errors" in the processing of new hires on Thursday and apologized after frustration at withheld wages and bonuses and the far-reaching corona restrictions caused riots at the plant on Wednesday. These were rare scenes of open disagreement in China.
At the Zhengzhou production site, more than 200,000 employees produce Apple devices, including the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
A corona curfew has been in effect again for around six million people in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou since Friday: All residents of eight districts around the country's largest iPhone factory are initially not allowed to leave their quarters for five days. Barricades were erected around blocks of flats that were considered "high risk" and checkpoints were set up in the streets.
Although there are officially only a few cases of corona infection in the city, around half of its residents are again in lockdown. For the time being, the area of the huge iPhone factory is excluded from the new lockdown, but in which the strictest corona rules have been in force for weeks.
Workers at the factory took to the streets on Wednesday to protest the harsh restrictions and poor pay. Videos on online services Weibo and Twitter, verified by AFP, showed hundreds of workers demonstrating at Apple's Foxconn factory.
On Friday, more videos surfaced online of protesting workers taking to the streets in the east of the city. Videos said Foxconn turned away workers who wanted to apply because of job advertisements at the factory and put some of them in quarantine hotels.
"They won't let us start work - and we can't go back home," a worker quarantined in the nearby city of Ruzhou told AFP. He reported on several small-scale protests by Foxconn workers in other cities in Henan province who shared the same experience.
Other videos also posted online on Friday show angry workers knocking over furniture and berating police officers in a hotel lobby in the city of Nanyang, 280 kilometers away. They too appear to have been quarantined. In one recording, a man's voice could be heard saying, "Anyone online please share this."
Across China, people's frustration with the government's strict zero-Covid policy is growing. Even small corona outbreaks can lead to lockdowns, even entire cities and business closures, which puts a massive strain on the economy and people's everyday lives.
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