iPhone 14: Violent protests erupt at Apple’s largest factory, delays to be expected

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Hundreds of workers at Apple’s main iPhone manufacturing plant in China have clashed with security personnel as tensions rise after nearly a month of tough restrictions designed to quell the Covid outbreak.

Foxconn employees

Definitely, nothing is going well for Apple. A few weeks ago, thousands of employees deserted the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China, the largest factory for the manufacture of Apple iPhones. The workers had mostly fled for fear of catching Covid, after China has imposed strict confinement for the 200,000 workers.

These demonstrations had unsurprisingly greatly impacted the iPhone production chain, thus greatly extending the delivery times of the latest iPhones. As it becomes more and more complicated to get an iPhone 14 and to be sure to have it under the Christmas tree, Apple would not be at the end of its surprises.

Foxconn did everything to bring employees back

Foxconn had recently announced new incentives for workers looking to stay employed in the coming months. Indeed, the iPhone production unit of the factory promised a “retention bonus” of up to 8,000 yuan (1,080 euros) for workers who agree to continue working until March 6.

The policy would presumably only apply to part-time workers who are already employed by the factory, and those directly involved in manufacturing would be paid more. Thanks to these advantages, more than 100,000 people are said to have registered during the massive recruitment campaign organized by Foxconn. Among them, a majority of young workers in search of a first experience in the world of work.

New employees are already protesting to denounce working conditions

The arrival of new employees was supposed to be great news for Foxconn and Apple, but not everything went according to plan. Due to strict quarantine policies, there was not enough room for a massive influx of new workers. Foxconn was therefore forced to quickly suspend recruitment.

According to some workers who were able to question the media, Foxconn would not have fulfilled all its promises. They would have been informed this week that they would not receive their bonus on the date originally scheduled.

foxconn chip shortage

The factory would also lied to new employees by placing them with former factory workers, which could pose a health problem. Indeed, employees who remained at work after the recent protests may have been exposed to Covid-19. Videos show workers complaining about the food provided to them during their quarantine or complaining about the insufficiency of the barriers put in place to contain an epidemic.

Faced with these sanitary conditions, the new employees therefore obviously wanted to flee the factory. Other videos posted on Chinese social media by the new hires showed thousands of masked people facing rows of police in white protective suits with riot shields. In another clip, we can see several people in white clothes hitting a person lying on the ground with batons. Various protesters appear to be shouting ” fight, fight! as the crowd tries to force their way through the barricades.

Further delays are to be expected with the iPhone 14s

Restrictions and worker discontent have unsurprisingly affected production, leading Apple to say earlier this month that it expects lower shipments of high-end iPhone 14 models. will therefore probably delay the production of smartphones again.

As a reminder, Foxconn is responsible for approximately 70% of iPhone shipments worldwide. Seeing the main plant lose several thousand employees is therefore a real blow for Apple, which will have to focus in the coming weeks on other smaller production sites in India and southern China.

The situation at the Foxconn plant is therefore an important reminder of the dangers for Apple of relying on China-centric production at a time when politics is unpredictable and trade relations uncertain. This is why the company should reduce its production in China over the next few years, and allow India to take over the manufacture of around 25% of all iPhones by 2025. according to JPMorgan analysts.

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Mubashir Hassan
Expert in tech and gaming, blending industry insights with expertise