(Yicai Global) Nov. 1 -- The recent outbreak of Covid-19 at one of Foxconn Technology Group's plants in Zhengzhou, Henan has raised a lot of concerns, with reports of management chaos and disgruntled staff. An employee at the plant, which is the world's largest iPhone foundry, said it was largely due to the huge number of workers affected, and that the situation was improving.
Wang Pan, an insider at the Zhengzhou plant, told Yicai Global that Foxconn used to conduct nucleic acid screening in groups of 20 people, which helps to improve efficiency but requires massive isolation and retesting procedures if abnormal results appear, leading to a shortage of testing staff and isolation sites.
Last week, a story saying that nearly 20,000 people were infected with Covid-19 at the Zhengzhou plant hit the Internet. The Taiwan-based electronics manufacturing giant responded on Oct. 26, saying that the story was false and that operations at the plant were stable.
According to Wang, the Zhengzhou plant has been implementing control measures since Oct. 19, including delivering food to employees. But due to the huge number of staff, supplies were not always delivered on time, triggering discontent among employees and increasing the rumors, he added.
Last weekend, videos of Foxconn employees leaving the Zhengzhou plant to return home on foot went viral on the Internet. On Oct. 29, authorities of cities and counties around Zhengzhou issued open letters saying they were ready to welcome those who had left Foxconn, and asking the employees to let them know in advance and follow isolation instructions.
Wang said that returning home on foot was a reluctant move by some employees. A lack of information caused panic about the outbreak, and due to the local pandemic prevention traffic controls, the employees had to walk in order to leave.
On Oct. 30, Foxconn issued another statement, saying it respected employees' choices and had arranged vehicles for employees who wanted to leave. It also posted information on how the leaving process would work.
Wang said that the strength of one company is limited and it is very difficult to handle pandemic prevention for a facility with more than 200,000 staff, but the company is working hard to make improvements.
At present, the company has changed its approach of nucleic acid testing in groups of 20 and is now testing individually, and positive cases will be transferred to medical isolation sites provided by the local government, thus reducing the number of people who need to be isolated and avoiding chaos, Wang added.
Foxconn has three plants in Zhengzhou with a total of 90 production lines and about 350,000 employees, making it the world's largest iPhone assembly center. Among them, the Airport Economy Zone plant where this outbreak occurred has over 200,000 employees, Yicai Global learned.
There has been a surge in production at the Zhengzhou plants since Apple launched the iPhone 14 series in September. Foxconn said on Oct. 30 that it would coordinate with other plants to boost production and reduce the impact from the outbreak.
(Wang Pan is a pseudonym)
Editors: Dou Shicong, Tom Litting