Protests have erupted at Foxconn’s massive iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, central China, as images circulating on social media show workers clashing with baton-wielding riot police and officials in protective gear. The protests began after workers, who have been under strict covid lockdown for weeks, learned that bonus payments would be delayed, police said. The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal reports that protests began Tuesday night near Foxconn employee accommodations at the Zhengzhou facility. Foxconn’s strict covid controls have reportedly isolated its employees, forcing them to live and work on site (with limited food and supplies) to prevent further outbreaks in Zhengzhou. Since October, many workers have escaped from the sealed facility, prompting Foxconn to promise incentives such as higher salaries and bonuses to retain staff.
Video footage captured on Wednesday shows hundreds of workers protesting on campus chanting “give us our pay” while surrounded by riot police and people in safety suits. Live stream footage later that night saw the protests escalate, with workers chanting: “Defend our rights! Defend our rights!” as they confronted police officers, according to the Agence France-Presse news Agency. “Foxconn never treats people like people,” another person said in a social media video at the scene.
Other workers caught on live streams said they were protesting food shortages in addition to the delayed payments. “They changed the contract so we couldn’t get the grant as they promised. They are quarantining us but not providing food,” a Foxconn employee said during a livestream as reported by the BBC. “If they don’t meet our needs, we will keep fighting.”
Most of the video footage has already been removed, but The Wall Street Journal reports that it has confirmed events shown in the videos with employees at the site. The hashtag “Foxconn Riots” was also seemingly censored on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Wednesday night.