Workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly plant were seen confronting police, some in riot gear, on Wednesday, according to videos shared on social media.
Videos show hundreds of workers confronting law enforcement officers, many wearing white hazmat suits, at the Foxconn campus in China’s central city of Zhengzhou. In the footage, now blocked, some of the protesters could be heard complaining about their pay and sanitary conditions.
The scenes come days after Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people had signed up for jobs advertised as part of a massive recruitment drive organized for Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory.
Apple (AAPL) has faced significant supply chain constraints in the assembly plant and expects iPhone 14 shipments to be hit just as the holiday shopping season begins. CNN reached out to the company to comment on the situation at the factory.
A Covid outbreak last month forced the site to close, leading some anxious factory workers to flee.
Videos of many people leaving Zhengzhou on foot had gone viral on Chinese social media earlier in November, prompting Foxconn to step up measures to get its staff back. In an attempt to limit the fallout, the company said it quadrupled daily bonuses for workers at the plant this month.
On Wednesday, workers were heard in the video saying Foxconn failed to honor their promise of an attractive bonus and pay package after they arrived to work at the plant. Numerous complaints were also posted anonymously on social media platforms accusing Foxconn of altering previously announced salary packages.
In an English-language statement, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “severance has always been fulfilled on the basis of contractual obligation” after new recruits at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus appealed to the company over the work allowance on Tuesday.
Workers were also heard in the videos complaining about insufficient anti-Covid measures, saying workers who tested positive were not separated from the rest of the workforce.
Foxconn said in the English statement that online speculation about Covid-positive employees living in dormitories at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou is “patently untrue”.
“Before new recruits move in, the dormitory environment goes through standard disinfection procedures, and only after the premises pass government control are new employees allowed to move in.” , Foxconn said.
Searches for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social networks now yield few results, a sign of strong censorship.
“Regarding violent behavior, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” Foxconn said in a statement in Chinese.
The Zhengzhou plant is the largest iPhone assembly site in the world. It typically accounts for about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Woitzik, global director of intelligence solutions at Everstream, a supply chain risk analytics provider.
Apple earlier this month warned of disruption to its supply chain, saying customers will feel the impact.
“We now expect lower shipments of iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max than we previously anticipated,” the tech giant said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”
Last week, the wait time for these models had reached 34 days in the United States, according to a report from UBS.
Public frustration has grown under China’s relentless zero Covid policy, which continues to involve strict lockdowns and travel restrictions nearly three years into the pandemic.
Last week, that sentiment surfaced as footage on social media showed locked-down residents in Guangzhou knocking down barriers meant to confine them to their homes and taking to the streets in defiance of strictly enforced local orders.
— Michelle Toh, Simone McCarthy, Wayne Chang, Juliana Liu and Kathleen Magramo contributed to this report.