Apple’s Chinese iPhone Factory Faces Almost Insurmountable Challenges

Protests erupted last week at the world’s largest iPhone factory in China as workers fought with police and demonstrated against draconian government and company measures.

Taiwan-based Foxconn owns the facility in Zhengzhou and employs roughly 200,000. As last week proved, the enormous enterprise is a powder keg waiting to explode.

Without rapid changes to the communist government’s anti-COVID policies, Apple faces a major shortfall in production as worker unrest threatens the tech giant’s bottom line.

In fact, the company is looking at a production shortfall of nearly 6 million iPhone Pro models, according to Bloomberg. There is now a lag time of well over a month for customers who order certain models.

It is unknown how or even if Apple can address worker grievances. At the forefront are the conditions under which employees are now required to operate.

China’s “zero COVID” policy remains in effect a full three years after the first cases emerged in Wuhan. Besides regular lockdowns, Foxconn workers are forced to stay within the factory and company dormitories in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Workers face daily mass COVID testing that is followed by mandatory quarantines for the infected and everyone who came in close contact with them.

Foxconn requires employees to submit to traditional Chinese medications, which are unproven in their effectiveness against coronavirus. And N95 masks are constantly worn.

Bloomberg reported security measures around company testing are sorely lacking. Authorities will combine as many as 20 throat swabs in one tube to expedite testing and cut costs. A positive result for even one swab means all whose samples were contained are now quarantined.

The outlet reported that as of October, roughly 20,000 workers were confined on-site.

The dormitories are hardly better. With employees restricted from leaving, trash piles up for weeks. Reporters were told of poor food or none at all.

China’s response to the unrest at Apple’s iPhone factory was to send in police carrying batons to battle the protesters. The communist government then enacted a lockdown of 6 million in and around the facility for five days.

Apple is heavily dependent on its Chinese production to maintain its breakneck pace of deliveries. As it has little sway with the Chinese Communist Party, the company can only hope that Beijing loosens restrictions and workers willingly return to their posts.