Foxconn's bid to catch up on Apple's iPhone 14 Pro orders at its Zhengzhou factory in China is reportedly endangering further outbreaks, by having ill workers stay on the production line.
After months of measures to limit the spread of COVID throughout its workforce, the largest iPhone 14 Pro factory in China lifted most of its restrictions on November 30. However, Foxconn's efforts to catch up after falling behind may be continuing to put the workforce at further risk of infection.
Employees speaking to Rest Of World claim that they have caught the virus after joining the factory. However, instead of being sent off lines after displaying symptoms, some alleged that they were asked to continue working.
One employee alleges that several of their colleagues worked while having a fever. They also had symptoms of being unwell, including having trouble breathing, but spent 11 hours on the line that day, and 10 hours the following day.
That worker's supervisor also apparently told employees to avoid being tested so they could stay on production lines. Foxconn's policies dictate those with positive results are banned from production facilities and dormitories.
Those who were diagnosed as having COVID-19 were also held away from the rest of the workforce in various facilities, including a vocational school and an unfinished apartment complex, report sources say. There were some issues with medical supplies, along with food shortages and dirty toilets.
Some workers also feared for their income if they took sick leave.
During the fall, measures such as closed-loop systems that confined factory workers and higher levels of testing reduced the amount of illness on the production lines. Since the restrictions have lifted, workers now say there's more instances of coughing and fever on lines compared to earlier in the fall.
The symptoms and need to work isn't limited to just line workers. One worker's managers seemed sick as well, using raspy voices to scold employees and having problems walking steadily.
After a prolonged period of employee unrest caused by the need to contain and fight COVID, and at the peak of the holiday shopping period, Foxconn was likely to intend this time to be an opportunity to catch up to iPhone demand.
If unheeded, Foxconn could end up triggering more lockdowns, which could create further worker riots, and slow down Apple's iPhone 14 Pro shipments even more.