Quanta Factory Workers in Shanghai Skirmish With Local Authorities Over Pandemic Lockdown Rules

Quanta Factory Workers in Shanghai Skirmish With Local Authorities Over Pandemic Lockdown Rules
Chinese workers assemble electronic parts at a factory in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in this file photo. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Bryan Jung

Over a hundred workers at a plant that produces electronic equipment for Apple and Tesla in the Songjiang district of Shanghai defied CCP quarantine officials and factory guards on May 5, after suffering from weeks of severe pandemic-related lockdowns.

Tensions finally reached a boiling point with workers at Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City in Shanghai over fears that officials planned the further tightening of restrictions after several colleagues tested positive for the virus on factory grounds, Bloomberg reported.

Videos on Twitter and YouTube show frustrated workers at the factory complex pushing through isolation barriers and getting into physical altercations with uniformed security officers trying to prevent them from reentering the campus dormitories after the end of their shifts.

News of the clashes at Quanta's Shanghai factory appeared on Twitter and YouTube and on Taiwanese media, but with little mention on CCP state-owned social media platforms.

Some of the officials admitted that they were worried about getting infected by workers returning from quarantine centers and that a spread of the virus at the factory complex would force the campus into another lockdown, reported Taiwanese stations USTV and UDN.

The factory resumed normal operations by the morning of May 6 after order was restored.

The factory incident shows the difficulty Shanghai's authorities are facing trying to keep their factories running, as 25 million residents remain under strict lockdown for more than a month.

The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission reported 3,625 asymptomatic cases, 322 symptomatic cases, and 11 deaths on May 8, with some of those infected working at the factories.

A March outbreak of the Omicron variant in China led Beijing to order a massive lockdown in the financial and manufacturing hub of Shanghai, disrupting the operations of tech and electric vehicle plants, along with other factories; worsening the global supply chain crisis which has been affecting production worldwide.

Tesla was forced to close its Shanghai Gigafactory on March 28, but was allowed by authorities to reopen it on April 19 under the "closed-loop" system which requires employees to live, work, and sleep at the plant and campus dormitories.

Employees are forbidden from leaving the plant to stop the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus to the outside population or into the plant from the surrounding community during the lockdown.

General Motors and Taiwan's Quanta Computer, which assembles three-quarters of Apple's production of MacBooks and computer circuit boards for Tesla's cars in Shanghai, adopted the closed-loop system in April to allow the company to maintain its operations during the lockdown.

The tech company also provides electronic components for Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Microsoft.

Volkswagen, meanwhile shut its Shanghai factory on April 1 and decided to suspend its operations entirely.

Foxconn Technology Group shut down its factories in Shenzhen in southern China on March 14, after city officials implemented a quarantine lockdown. A further lockdown affected its plant in the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone, where the world's largest iPhone factory is located.

Foxconn instituted a requirement for its employees to have daily mandatory CCP virus tests before entering the factory.

Quanta announced its temporary suspension of operations in Shanghai on April 13 to comply with quarantine measures, prompting some analysts to predict the delivery of MacBook Pros being delayed by three to five weeks.

The Taiwanese-based tech company gradually resumed factory operations on April 18, allowing 2,000 out of its 40,000-workforce to return to the plant.

The factory in Shanghai accounts for about 20 percent of Quanta's production for Apple, with more than 50 percent of the company's revenue coming through its partnership.

The lockdowns may result in a loss in production of 6 million to 10 million iPhone units, say analysts.

An employee at the factory said that the CCP was taking about an increasingly central role in managing the factory's day-to-day operations, reported Bloomberg.

The implementation of the closed-loop measures had also resulted in more than 70 percent of Shanghai's industrial facilities restarting production and that 90 percent of 660 key industrial companies have resumed output, local officials told Bloomberg.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.