Riots, tear gas, injuries at Foxconn's largest iPhone plant (video)

From "China: Protests break out at Foxconn's largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou over Covid restrictions" which aired Wednesday on India's WION news:

According to the reports, violent protests have erupted at Foxconn's biggest plant in China. Tensions are boiling since last month over tough restriction put in place at the plant to quash a Covid outbreak.

My take: This is bad, and not just for what it means for Apple's December quarter.

UPDATE: More video...

8 Comments

  1. Brian Loftus said:
    Unusual that I cannot find symptomatic vs asymptomatic cases for this outbreak. With omicron and before Shanghai outbreak. It was 7 to 1 or so asymptomatic to symptomatic. Shanghai was 30-50 asymptomatic to symptomatic. Even at 7 to 1 or so, they have reached the threshold where lockdown harms exceeds benefits.

    3
    November 23, 2022
  2. Rick Povich said:
    Yes, lockdown harms do exceeds benefits

    1
    November 23, 2022
  3. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    Prayers for all, for all good outcomes for everyone.

    0
    November 23, 2022
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    This is bad in multiple ways. From the diminished status of Tim Cook being a supply chain guru to Apple’s tangential involvement in workers’ riots leading to a mediocre trained PLA Chinese army of older veterans assembling the world’s premier high tech premium quality device leaving consumer recipients wondering what they may get when they get it. Tim Cook will take a hit on this debacle no matter that it stems primarily from an asinine Chinese Covid policy of “no-tolerance.” I am pissed, and I don’t quite know with whom.

    2
    November 23, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      IMO, the first to be pissed at is Foxconn’s 1) terrible and probably confusing communications (maybe purposely) regarding pay scale, bonuses, and when they will be paid. I note that when these incentives were introduced, they were typically backloaded by dates (have to stay for such and such a time). Workers have said they are not getting paid all they believed they should get when they expected or were told they to get paid. If Foxconn expects workers to remain, pay is the #1 fundamental issue as to why workers will be upset.

      But #2, if Foxconn is scrimping or unable to correctly and fundamentally provide normal and good working and living conditions for all of its workers, yes, even under lockdown conditions, then they need to fix this and now. Despite Apple’s need for production and Apple’s communications to that effect, it does not mean treating workers poorly to get there. Foxconn’s and Apple’s reputation AND relationship is being tarnished and strained as we speak and Apple needs to help / push Foxconn to address these fundamental issues.

      That being said, this is trying to completely administer a literal city the size of Little Rock AR, Amarillo TX, or Salt Lake City, and can swell to the size of Pittsburgh so this is pretty difficult to do even under the best of conditions.

      #3 to be pissed at is the local and Central Chinese government for pretty draconian, apparently poorly thought out and implemented Covid policies and procedures. This raises the tensions, forces Foxconn into hastily setup and managed conditions, and frankly, muddles the entire province.

      And #4, Apple and TSMC indirectly. Because the A16 uses the latest 5nm enhanced process but my guess is yields were too costly, not high enough or early enough to supply all models so they were reserved for only Pro Models, which caused inventory buildup to be too slow, compounded by a (fairly predictable) Covid outbreak with predictable response. I know Foxconn is contracted and trying to fulfill it IPhone contracts at a critical time for Apple, but Apple is going to have tough decisions about supporting its contractors’ workers or be seen as the big bad tech company where profits above all else reigns.

      Cook needs to lay low and be perceived as concerned and addressing the situation. Last thing Apple needs is a PR debacle where Cook is seen at a first world holiday party while worker unrest is unfolding.

      2
      November 23, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      IMO, the first to be pissed at is Foxconn 1) terrible and probably confusing communications (maybe purposely) regarding pay scale, bonuses, and when they will be paid. I note that when these incentives were introduced, they were typically backloaded by dates (have to stay for such and such a time). Workers have said they are not getting paid all they believed they should get when they expected or were told they to get paid. If Foxconn expects workers to remain, pay is the #1 fundamental issue as to why workers will be upset.

      But #2, if Foxconn is scrimping or unable to correctly and fundamentally provide normal and good working and living conditions for all of its workers, yes, even under lockdown conditions, then they need to fix this and now. Despite Apple’s need for production and Apple’s communications to that effect, it does not mean treating workers poorly to get there. Foxconn’s and Apple’s reputation AND relationship is being tarnished and strained as we speak and Apple needs to help / push Foxconn to address these fundamental issues.

      That being said, this is trying to completely administer a literal city the size of Little Rock AR, Amarillo TX, or Salt Lake City, and can swell to the size of Pittsburgh so this is pretty difficult to do even under the best of conditions.

      #3 to be pissed at is the local and Central Chinese government for pretty draconian, apparently poorly thought out and implemented Covid policies and procedures. This raises the tensions, forces Foxconn into hastily setup and managed conditions, and frankly, muddles the entire province.

      And #4, Apple and TSMC indirectly. Because the Pro Models’ A16 uses the newest 5nE process, it’s more expensive, maybe getting production took longer and inventory buildup was delayed. Unfortunately, JIT manufacturing to meet demand orders revealed again Covid shutdown vulnerability. The only positive is that A16 and other parts inventory can be built up or exported, priming the pump for when (or if) lockdowns ease (no visibility entering winter flu and Covid season unless mRNA vaccines appear) and production might be fully restored.

      China is now almost 2 years behind on mRNA vaccines and will be another 6-12 months behind on vaccination rates due to supply of vaccine vs the huge population needing vaccination.

      0
      November 23, 2022
  5. Michael Goldfeder said:
    China’s draconian policy of “Zero Covid” while a noble goal, does have its consequences. They are seeing first hand what the masses think of being locked down and unable to work and earn wages. This is no different than what is taking place in Iran with the strict religious guidelines against women for exposing their hair in public. Protests are the final straw that is a pathway to change. Beating anyone to death for such an act is simply unconscionable!

    Tim Cook didn’t impose these lockdowns. China did. A PR problem for Apple? Certainly due to all of the media coverage placing blame everywhere except those who created this scenario. Let’s look upstream first before casting aspersions on those below who are being impacted by an unworkable imposition to a public health/medical situation.

    2
    November 23, 2022
  6. Daniel Epstein said:
    I think this story plays out very similarly to when the suicides were happening at an Iphone assembly plant which had enough workers to be equivalent to a small city. Might be the same one as this story. Apple was called out by many and there was a lot of handwringing. Tragedies for the people who committed suicide but the story was more complex than the headlines. Eventually things were stabilized. Apple continued to use Foxconn for Iphone production. Now we are dealing with Covid and over time I expect the same result. In truth the managers at Foxconn who have to run the plant will have to get a handle on the problems created by the lockdown and how quickly they do that is important to how well Apple sales will be this quarter, next and going forward. And of course the press is playing this story for the clicks.

    0
    November 23, 2022

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