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7 Nov 2022

China: NGOs launch petition calling on Apple to investigate Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory amid Covid curbs

"Apple must investigate Zhengzhou's Foxconn factory" 5 November 2022

We request that Apple Inc. take on its social responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incident at Zhengzhou’s Foxconn factory

Since late October, footage depicting Foxconn workers’ experience of brutal treatment in the Henan area has surfaced online, which has also been picked up by official media outlets. 

There are over 200,000 workers stationed at Apple’s supplier factory Foxconn in the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province. It is also Apple’s largest production site in China: half of the world’s iPhones are made there. In order to satisfy Apple’s new production quota, Foxconn has been eager to fulfill its promises for its products’ on-time delivery. Since October, its factory has been pushing an inhuman closed-loop management regiment, forbidding its workers from leaving the factory. Despite this, new COVID outbreaks still emerged, but in order to maintain its production quota, Foxconn kept its gates shut and continued to neglect the workers’ basic human and labor rights. 

Some workers complained on social media that infected workers have been locked in their dormitories, without access to medical services and supplies. For those who have not been infected, if they do not go to work, then they cannot receive meal boxes which are distributed after work only.   Since the restaurants around the area have all shut down, workers are forced to go out to work just to get the food. They also lack adequate protective gear, and the management has even requested some workers to rest in the workshop itself. Workers who tried to leave were impeded, sometimes by force. Videos online have shown workers—eager to escape the virus, hunger, and violence in the factory—running away in severe conditions and long journeys.

As revealed in the news concerning the pandemic, many of Zhengzhou’s Foxconn workers, revealing that Foxconn employs massive amounts of dispatch labor far exceeding its legal ratio of all employees as stipulated by laws. It did not provide dispatch workers with proper labor contracts and social benefits, severely violating Chinese labor law. 

Foxconn’s mother company Hon Hai released a statement on October 30th saying that they will make improvements, but continued to affirm closed-loop management practices—this is undoubtedly a kind of forced labor. The government’s demands should not give excuses for companies to enact forced labor. Foxconn is still choosing to prioritize profit over workers’ health and human rights. 

Also, Chinese state media’s reporting has still not adequately accounted for the workers’ conditions. As information is tightly controlled by China’s ruling party, we need an independent third party to investigate to uncover the truth to the world. As Foxconn’s main order source whose products are purchased by consumers across the world, Apple has the responsibility to call for such an investigation, under the supervision of international trade unions (including US unions and the International Trade Union Confederation). 

We request that these questions be answered under an independent investigation authorized by Apple: 

  1. There were outbreaks in the factory in the middle of October, creating harsh conditions that affected even those who were not infected. Why did Foxconn wait until October 30th to acknowledge this? What was Foxconn hiding and why?
  2. How many Foxconn workers contracted COVID in October?
  3. How many Foxconn workers died in October? What are the causes of death?
  4. Who authorized the order to forbid the workers from leaving the factory in October? What was the reason?
  5. Why were there no medical supplies given to the infected workers?
  6. Why was there chaos over the distribution of basic necessities in the factory area? 
  7. What were Foxconn’s standards for workers’ housing conditions during isolation? How many people were isolated in October?
  8. Why were there not enough isolation areas equipped with adequate basic supplies for the workers?
  9. How many dispatch workers are currently hired by Zhengzhou’s Foxconn factory? Why are they not fully employed?
  10. Are there signs of forced labor during the period of closed-loop production?
  11. Are there workers whose movements have been forcibly restricted during the period of closed-loop production? Who were the people implementing these policies? 

In addition, we demand that Apple and Foxconn:

  • Respect that workers’ rights are more important than the companies’ profit, that workers’ freedoms and health are more important than the employers’ production plan
  • Immediately stop violating workers’ personal freedoms 
  • Find out who has been responsible for violently restricting workers’ freedoms
  • Guarantee all workers’ lives and health
  • Fairly compensate workers who have been harmed by the closed-loop production regiment 
  • Provide enough food and protective gear to workers 
  • If cases begin to spike again, prioritize workers’ health and pause the production process when needed
  • Provide travel stipends for workers wishing to return home 


Supporting organizations:

Students For Hong Kong 

Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong (英国/UK)

Borderless Movement / 无国界社运 (香港/Hong Kong) 

China Labor Watch / 中国劳工观察 (美国/US)

Sedane Labour Resource Centre / Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane (印尼/Indonesia)

Dove and Crane Collective (美国/US)

Forum Arbeitswelten / 劳工世界 (德国/Germany) 

Lausan 流伞 Collective 

Citizens Daily CN / 公民日报

Befria Hong Kong (瑞典/Sweden)