A key manufacturer in Apple’s supply chain intends to fully reopen its largest Chinese iPhone factory that closed after hundreds of employees protested COVID-19 restrictions, easing the tech-related supply-chain struggles facing the industry and hurting consumers.
Foxconn, which operates the world’s largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, announced on Monday that it intended to bring the company to full output by late December or early January, according to Reuters. Workers disrupted production, alleging that the company planned to delay bonus pay and that it had forced new employees to live with those who tested positive.
The company also announced that it experienced a decline in revenue reflective of the production and supply issues that plague the manufacturing industry. Revenue fell 11.4% year over year in November, and 29% since October, according to the Financial Times. While the company did not explicitly discuss the iPhone or the protests, it did note that the drop in sales was because “a portion of shipments [were] being impacted by the epidemic in Zhengzhou.”
Workers at the Zhengzhou factory had been forced to live in factory living quarters to continue working without risk of exposure amid a monthlong lockdown in the Chinese city. Tensions between staff and leadership continued to rise until workers rioted outside the factory on Nov. 23. Videos showed that the workers were attacked by people in hazmat suits wielding batons and tear gas.
The Foxconn protest is not the first outbreak of anger from Chinese employees over COVID-19 restrictions. Hundreds of workers fought with security in May at Quanta Computer’s Shanghai factory after being barred from leaving the factory for months.
Zhengzhou has been under lockdown for a month due to China’s COVID-zero policy, which typically restricts entire cities to stop the spread of COVID-19. The city ended the lockdown last week after numbers dropped.