Workers flee China’s Covid restrictions at Foxconn’s huge iPhone factory

Workers are staging a walkout this weekend from the world’s largest iPhone factory, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus at Foxconn’s factory in central China.

The giant building in the city of Zhengzhou, which workers say produces Apple’s iPhone 14, is the latest manufacturing plant to be destroyed by President Xi Jinping’s tough policy.

Five workers who spoke to the Financial Times said the situation at the company was slowly worsening as Covid continued to spread, with food and medicine running low and workers being locked indoors. for diversity – causing hundreds of workers to flee on foot. the weekend.

A 22-year-old worker named Xia said: “It was chaos in the dormitory. He said: “We put up a rubber fence and a metal fence to get out of the school grounds.

Tens of thousands of workers assemble iPhones at the factory, which is run by contract manufacturer Foxconn, before sending Apple smartphones to customers around the world. The plant imported $32bn worth of electronics overseas and was China’s third largest exporter in 2019, according to a think tank linked to the country’s commerce ministry.

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Located in Henan, China’s most populous province, Foxconn’s factories have attracted young workers from the region’s small towns, with local leaders helping to recruit and recruit workers.

But on Sunday, local authorities struggled to organize buses to bring the workers home and separately, while demonstrations of workers carrying bags descended on the highway. The FT saw hundreds of users signing up for the ride on one social media site.

“I will not go back to Foxconn,” said a worker surnamed Xu, who escaped the plant at 2 a.m. on Sunday. “They don’t have people there.” He and four friends were on the highway, traveling more than 200km to their home in Xin’an province, Henan, he said.

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Authorities in Zhengzhou have locked down the city of 10 million after more Covid cases were discovered. Unlike the rest of the world, China continues to use lockdowns, quarantines and extreme testing in an effort to eradicate the coronavirus.

Zhengzhou city officials said late Sunday that they would begin the “return of workers to their cities” on social media. “Foxconn will make every effort to ensure that the return of all Foxconn employees is safe and sound,” the announcement said.

The city also published a message from Foxconn, promising that they will “improve living and working conditions” for any workers who are willing to stay.

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Officials said the Foxconn area has been cordoned off for several days, shutting down public transportation and closing several roads. They said that Foxconn has used the precautionary measures and used daily Covid testing and isolating workers who work with Covid to try to contain the outbreak while continuing with iPhone production.

“My colleague was taken out for suspicion. “My older sister is locked in her bedroom,” said Cao Zhiqiang, an assembly line worker at the factory. “My house is too far to run so I’m stuck here.”

Cao said that through the weekend, his production line continued to churn out iPhones and he expected to be back to work in the morning.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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