(NewsNation) — Video footage showing workers at the world’s largest Apple iPhone factory clashing with police surfaced Wednesday in what is being described as a protest over unmet pay wages and poor COVID-19 protections.
The video shows thousands of alleged Apple employees dressed in white hazmat suits facing rows of police adorned with plastic riot shields.
During the protest, which reportedly took place in the central city of Zhengzhou, China, police are seen kicking and hitting a protester with clubs after he grabbed a metal pole that had been used to strike him. People who shot the footage said it was filmed at the site.
A promise made by the factory lies at the heart of the dispute, according to reports.
After thousands of employees left the Foxconn Technology Group-operated iPhone factory last month over complaints about unsafe working conditions, the company offered higher pay to attract more workers.
The company earlier warned that iPhone 14 deliveries would be delayed after access to an industrial zone around the Zhengzhou factory, which Foxconn says employs 200,000 people, was suspended following outbreaks — an issue that is especially pressing as the Zhengzhou factory is set to assemble the iPhone 14 ahead of the holidays.
But according to some workers, those demands were not met upon return.
“Foxconn released very tempting recruiting offers, and workers from all parts of the country came, only to find they were being made fools of,” Li Sanshan, an employee, said in an interview with CNN Business on Wednesday.
Foxconn has since denied the claims, saying in a statement released Wednesday that the “work allowance” has “always been fulfilled based on contractual obligation.”
The company also denied what it said were comments online that employees with the virus lived in dormitories at the Zhengzhou factory. It said facilities were disinfected and passed government checks before employees moved in.
“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” a company statement said.
The protest in Zhengzhou lasted through Wednesday morning as thousands of workers gathered outside dormitories and confronted factory security workers, according to Li.
Apple Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.