Some very dangerous protests have been recorded at the world’s biggest iPhone factory.
The protests erupted at Foxconn’s vast iPhone factory in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.
According to footage circulated widely online, the situation at the factory went from bad to worse after violent protests erupted on Tuesday.
Bloomberg reports that hundreds of workers were seen storming out of their dormitories, smashing through barriers, and fighting with guards who were wearing protective white suits.
Some workers were beaten with sticks, while others angrily attacked a police car. Eventually, anti-riot police arrived to get the situation back under control.
Those live-streaming the protests said workers were beaten by police. Videos also showed clashes.
The protesting workers are reportedly scared of what is going on at the factory and how they are being treated.
China’s Zero-COVID policy combined with COVID-19 outbreaks in Zhengzhou reportedly led to severe restrictions.
Foxconn is in lockdown mode, controlling where workers are allowed to go, what they eat, and who they can interact with. The food is described as “spartan” and medication is thought to be in very short supply.
Footage shared with AFP and captured by a factory worker showed one person lying inert on the ground next to a man in a blood-spattered jacket having his head bound in an apparent effort to staunch a wound.
Another clip shows dozens of hazmat-clad personnel wielding batons and chasing employees, one of whom is knocked to the ground before appearing to be kicked in the head.
The worker who shared the videos estimated that around 20 people were injured in the clashes, some of whom were taken to hospital. He requested anonymity to protect his safety.
The confrontations broke out after employees who signed an agreement with the factory to work at least 30 days in return for a one-time payment of 3,000 yuan ($420) suddenly saw the figure slashed to just 30 yuan, he told AFP.
Many workers were also incensed by “chaotic” living conditions, he said, adding that he “had not received any food” from the company since Tuesday.
Some Covid-negative staff had also been ordered to work alongside colleagues who once tested positive but were not quarantined, the worker said.
Foxconn 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 firm said in a statement.
A report by Asian Labour Review earlier this month pointed to videos of deaths that occurred in a room within the Foxconn facility. The deaths are unverified, but the videos spread quickly among workers and understandably scared many of them. Hundreds then fled the factory.
Foxconn was left needing hundreds of new workers to allow production to continue, so it offered higher wages and promised better working conditions. The violence is thought to be at least in part because wages aren’t being paid, combined with an ongoing fear that COVID is spreading through the workforce.