Nov 1, 2022 - World

Foxconn workers flee factory lockdown

Foxconn employees take shuttle buses to head home on October 30, 2022 in Zhengzhou, Henan Province of China

Foxconn employees take shuttle buses to head home on Oct. 30 in Zhengzhou, China. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Workers in China fled the world's largest iPhone factory over the weekend after days of partial COVID restrictions had forced workers into a "closed loop" inside the facility.

Why it matters: The incident highlights the ongoing economic disruptions and human cost caused by China's extreme measures to fight COVID. The loss of workers could put iPhone production back several months.

Details: The Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, Henan province, employs around 200,000 workers. Some COVID restrictions were first put in place in mid-October when several COVID cases were identified.

  • Trash piled up and employees began to worry about access to food, as well as the risk of infection, Bloomberg reports.
  • On Saturday, workers began abandoning their jobs and leaving the factory in large numbers. Videos flooded social media of workers walking along streets and through fields, per Bloomberg.

Many employees are migrant workers who sought work at the factory from other parts of China.

  • As they disperse back to their hometowns, municipalities are trying to prevent them from potentially spreading new COVID cases around the country.

What to watch: One source told Reuters that iPhone production at the factory could fall by up to 30% next month, though Foxconn is trying to make up that lost production at other facilities.

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