Unrest and production disruptions at Foxconn’s main iPhone plant in China

(Reuters) – Hundreds of workers on Wednesday joined protests at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China, in the latest upheaval related to strict COVID-19 controls.

Here is a timeline of problems at the world’s biggest iPhone plant, located in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

OCT. 13

Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Zhengzhou, Foxconn puts the plant’s 200,000 workers under closed-loop management – a system where staff live and work on-site isolated from the wider world.

OCT. 21

Foxconn tightens COVID-19 restrictions at the plant but says production remains normal.

OCT. 30

Migrant workers have begun to flee the plant’s campus and return to their hometowns. Cities in central China hastily drew up plans to isolate them, fearing they could trigger COVID outbreaks.

OCT. 31

Production of Apple Inc’s iPhones could slump by as much as 30% at the plant in November due to the tighter COVID curbs, a person with direct knowledge of the matter tells Reuters.

NOV. 1

Foxconn says it has quadrupled bonuses on offer for workers at the plant as it seeks to quell discontent over the COVID curbs and retain staff.

NOV. 2

China orders the industrial park in Zhengzhou that houses the Foxconn factory to enter a seven-day lockdown.

NOV. 7

Apple says it expects lower shipments of premium iPhone 14 models than previously anticipated following a significant production cut at the Zhengzhou plant, dampening its sales outlook for the busy year-end holiday season.

NOV. 9

The Zhengzhou plant continues to isolate its operations and staff despite the lifting of a seven-day lockdown for the rest of the industrial park in which it is located.

NOV. 10

Foxconn says it expects smartphone revenue to fall in the fourth quarter and is adjusting production to prevent recent COVID curbs in Zhengzhou from impacting holiday orders.

NOV. 23

Footage on social media of the protests shows men wielding sticks smashing surveillance cameras and windows. The trigger for the protests appears to have been a plan to delay bonus payments, many of the demonstrators said on livestream feeds. Reuters was not able to immediately verify the videos.

(Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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