Violent protests erupted around a huge factory in central China’s Zhengzhou, owned by Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn and the world’s largest iPhone maker, over restrictions and working conditions on Covid-19.
Here is a timeline of events so far:
– Epidemic –
Workers were warned in early October that several people at the factory had tested positive for Covid-19, according to interviews with AFP.
Employees have been ordered not to remove face masks but must continue to work, despite fears the virus could spread.
The Zhengzhou city facility employs more than 200,000 people, many of whom live in on-site dormitories.
– Confinement –
The factory is closed in mid-October, with workers required to test themselves daily and stay in a virus-safe bubble.
Foxconn insists the outbreak is limited and promises to provide “necessary safeguards” for employee livelihoods.
But worker complaints soon begin to circulate, including allegations of poor working conditions and inadequate protections for those uninfected.
– Exodus –
Workers begin to flee the factory in late October, and many walk long distances to return to their rural hometowns.
Videos on social media show some sitting with luggage on the side of highways as officials in hazmat suits spray them with disinfectant.
Authorities locked down the area around the factory in early November. Reports of chaos and shortages continue to emerge.
Apple warns virus restrictions will mean customers will have to wait longer for new iPhones before the holiday season.
– Violence –
Tensions at the facility erupted into violent protests in late November, with photos and videos on Chinese social media showing workers brawling with security personnel.
In footage verified by AFP, hundreds of workers are seen marching down a road in broad daylight. Some are confronted by riot police and people in hazmat suits.
Another clip from a livestream shows dozens of workers at night confronting a line of police and shouting, “Defend our rights!
Other images show battered test cabins and at least one overturned vehicle, as well as a man with a bloody face.
Foxconn confirms on Wednesday that the violence took place, saying workers are unhappy with pay and conditions, but denying that it has harbored new hires with Covid-positive staff.
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