According to reports, the world’s largest iPhone factory will resume full production after protests in early January

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The world’s largest iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China, will resume full production between late December and early January after a workers revolt at the plant over late payments and poor living conditions caused by tough zero-Covid measures, according to Reuters factory had been disrupted last month.

Important facts

Plant operator Foxconn – one of Apple’s main suppliers – has started hiring new staff to ramp up production again, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source.

If the recruitment campaign — which is being supported by the local government — goes according to plan, full production could resume in “about three to four weeks,” according to the report.

Foxconn’s hiring campaign comes just weeks after nearly 20,000 disgruntled workers accepted the company’s offer of 10,000 yen ($1,400) in compensation to leave the plant.

Recent turmoil at the plant, including worker protests and tough Covid restrictions, is “stabilizing,” the report adds.

While Apple has managed to diversify its iPhone assembly line somewhat — with contractors making some of its devices in India and Vietnam — a majority of the flagship iPhone 14 Pro models are assembled at the Zhengzhou factory.

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Recent manufacturing struggles in China have prompted Apple to accelerate its plans to move some manufacturing outside of China Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. According to the report, Apple has started pushing its suppliers to shift assembly of its products to other countries like Vietnam and India, both of which already manufacture the base model iPhone 14 along with some older models.

Big number

6 million. That’s the expected production stoppage for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max that Apple is likely to face due to the recent disruption at the Zhengzhou factory. Apple originally planned to make 90 million iPhone 14 series phones by the end of this year.

key background

Last month, violent clashes erupted between security guards and workers at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility, known as “iPhone City.” The protest was reportedly prompted by poor living conditions and concerns about late bonus payments. Due to China’s strict Covid control measures, workers have been forced to live on site in a closed bubble – only allowed to move between the factory floor and their dormitories. Workers were also angered by reports that they would not receive a bonus they had been promised if they did not stay at the factory until March. The bonus payments were a key stimulus to attract new workers to the plant after hundreds of workers fled the plant in October – fearing strict Covid restrictions following an outbreak at the plant. The “iPhone City” clashes also came amid massive protests across the country against China’s rigid zero-Covid stance, which includes tough lockdowns and repeated mass testing.

Further reading

Foxconn sees COVID-hit Chinese plant back to full capacity in late December/early January – source (Reuters)

Apple reportedly faces shortage of 6 million iPhones amid protests at Chinese factory (Forbes)

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