- Workers are reportedly fleeing the world’s largest iPhone factory in droves, amid a Covid outbreak.
- Photos and videos of workers escaping the Zhengzhou compound have been circulating online.
- Foxconn said it is arranging transportation for workers who wish to go home for an “orderly return.”
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
Workers at the world’s largest iPhone factory in China are fleeing the facility in droves, amid fears of severe COVID-19 restrictions following an outbreak, according to reports.
The facility, located in Zhengzhou city in the central Chinese province of Henan, employs over 200,000 workers. They make the majority of the world’s iPhones. The facilities were hit by a COVID-19 outbreak, which triggered strict pandemic containment curbs under China’s Covid-zero policy and worsened living conditions, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing five workers.
A risk of food shortages became a source of unrest, as only those working on production lines were provided with meal boxes, Bloomberg said on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. Workers infected with COVID-19, or those who feared leaving their dormitories, were just provided with basic supplies such as bread and instant noodles, the media outlet reported.
Dramatic photos and videos of Foxconn workers escaping the Zhengzhou compound have made their way online. One video appears to show the workers carrying bags of their belongings while making their way out on foot.
Hundreds of Foxconn employees are believed to have fled the factory in China’s central province of Henan. It comes after workers raised concerns about insufficient medical care and under-reported COVID infections put them at high risk.pic.twitter.com/8XBZa4eGc3
— Bang Xiao (@BangXiao_) October 30, 2022
A video, posted by BBC’s China Correspondent Stephen McDonell, appears to show workers climbing over fences to escape the facility.
Workers have broken out of #Apple‘s largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they’re walking to home towns more than 100 kilometres away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/NHjOjclAyU
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
Insider was unable to independently verify the videos.
Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Technology Group in China and Taiwan, said in a statement to Insider that it is “very aware that under the current situation, it is a protracted battle for safeguarding the health and safety of more than 200,000 employees in Foxconn’s Zhengzhou park.”
The company did not make any reference to the social media postings. Foxconn said it’s continuing to implement pandemic prevention measures in Zhengzhou park, including setting up a 24-hour hotline for employees. It added that the outbreak is stabilizing and there’s ample supply of daily necessities.
“For some employees who want to return home, the park is cooperating with the government to organize personnel and vehicles to provide a point-to-point orderly return service for employees, from today,” Foxconn said.
The company will coordinate with its other factories to minimize the impact on production capacity, it said.
The Foxconn outbreak happened just as Apple enters the crucial holiday quarter for retail trade. Apple has already warned of slowing growth in the fourth quarter, due to a strong US dollar and supply challenges of higher-end iPhone models.
The events at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant could cut Apple’s November output by as much as 30%, Reuters reported on Monday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, which was sent outside regular business hours.
Foxconn shares are flat on Monday, trading at 45.50 New Taiwan Dollars, or $1.41 apiece, on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.