Workers at China’s largest iPhone assembly plant confronted police on Wednesday, some in riot gear, according to videos shared on social media.
The videos show hundreds of workers confronting law enforcement officers, many in white safety suits, on the Foxconn campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou. The footage, which has now been blocked, showed some protesters complaining about their wages and sanitary conditions.
The scenes come days after Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people applied to fill vacancies advertised as part of a massive recruitment campaign for the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou.
Apple (AAPL) has faced significant supply chain constraints at its assembly facility and expects iPhone 14 shipments to hit just as the main Christmas shopping season begins. CNN has contacted the company for comment on the situation at the plant.
An outbreak of Covid last month forced the site to shut down, reportedly forcing some frightened factory workers to flee.
Videos of many people leaving Zhengzhou on foot went viral on Chinese social media earlier in November, forcing Foxconn to take more measures to get its staff back. To try to mitigate the fallout, the company said it quadrupled daily bonuses for workers at the plant this month.
On Wednesday, employees heard in the video that Foxconn failed to keep their promise of an attractive bonus and salary package after they arrived at the plant. Numerous complaints have also been posted anonymously on social media platforms, accusing Foxconn of altering previously advertised salary packages.
In a statement in English, Foxconn said on Wednesday that “the allowance has always been honored based on contractual obligations,” after some new hires at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou appealed to the company about the work allowance on Tuesday.
The videos also featured workers complaining about inadequate anti-Covid measures, saying workers who tested positive were not being separated from the rest of the workforce.
Foxconn said in the UK statement that speculation online about employees being Covid-positive and living in the dormitories at the Foxconn campus in Zhengzhou is “patently untrue”.
“Before new employees move in, the dorm goes through standard disinfection procedures, and only after the property passes government scrutiny are the new employees allowed to move in,” Foxconn said.
Searches for the term “Foxconn” on Chinese social media are now yielding few results, an indication of heavy censorship.
“With regard to 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 factory is the world’s largest iPhone assembly site. It typically represents about 50% to 60% of Foxconn’s global iPhone assembly capacity, according to Mirko Woitzik, Global Director of Intelligence Solutions at Everstream, a provider of supply chain risk analytics.
Apple warned of the supply chain disruption earlier this month, saying customers will feel an impact.
“We are now expecting fewer iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated,” the tech giant said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”
As of last week, the wait time for those models was 34 days in the United States, according to a report from UBS.
Public frustration is mounting under China’s relentless zero-Covid policy, which still entails strict lockdowns and travel restrictions almost three years after the pandemic.
Last week, that sentiment was evident when social media footage showed residents trapped in Guangzhou tearing down barriers designed 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.