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Huge Foxconn iPhone plant in China rocked by fresh worker unrest

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SHANGHAI/TAIPEI — Hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China, with some men smashing surveillance cameras and windows, footage uploaded on social media showed.

The rare scenes of open dissent in China mark an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in Zhengzhou city that has come to symbolise a dangerous build-up in frustration with the country’s ultra-severe COVID rules as well as inept handling of the situation by the world’s largest contract manufacturer.

The trigger for the protests, which began early on Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay bonus payments, many of the demonstrators said on livestream feeds. The videos could not be immediately verified by Reuters.

“Give us our pay!”, chanted workers surrounded by people in full hazmat suits, some carrying batons, according to footage from one video. Other footage showed tear gas being deployed and workers taking down quarantine barriers. Some workers had complained they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Foxconn, formally called Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, said in a statement it had fulfilled its payment contracts and that reports of infected staff living on campus with new recruits were “untrue.”

“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the company added.

A source familiar with the situation in Zhengzhou said production at the plant was unaffected by the worker unrest and output remained “normal”.

Reuters earlier reported that iPhone output at factory could slump by as much as 30% in November, and that Foxconn aimed to resume full production there by the second half of the month. Apple Inc had warned it expects lower shipments of premium iPhone 14 models than previously anticipated.

Group of people seem to walk towards the Foxconn factory following a protest at their plant in Zhengzhouu, China in this screen grab obtained from a video released November 23, 2022. Video obtained by Reuters

Group of people seem to walk towards the Foxconn factory following a protest at their plant in Zhengzhouu, China in this screen grab obtained from a video released November 23, 2022. Video obtained by Reuters

While the latest unrest has added “uncertainties” to the target, the source said the company was still working hard to reach it, adding that “only a portion” of the new recruits took part in the unrest.

A second source familiar with the matter, however, said Foxconn was unlikely to hit the target, pointing to disruptions caused by the unrest, impacting particularly new recruits who were hired to bridge the gap in the workforce.

“Originally, we were trying to see if the new recruits could go online by the end of November. But with the unrest, it’s certain that we can’t resume normal production by the month-end.”

Foxconn accounts for 70% of iPhone shipments globally. It makes most of the phones at the Zhengzhou plant, though it has other smaller production sites in India and southern China.

Shares of Foxconn have slipped 2% since the unrest emerged in late October.

The disruptions may shift some iPhone sales into the March quarter from the key holiday quarter, D.A. Davidson analyst Thomas Forte said.

Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said he expected the shutdowns to cost Apple about $1 billion a week in lost iPhone sales. In the holiday quarter last year, Apple reported iPhone sales worth nearly $6 billion per week.

Recruitment drive

Discontent over strict quarantine rules, the company’s inability to stamp out outbreaks and poor conditions including shortages of food had caused workers to flee the factory campus since the Apple Inc supplier imposed a so-called closed loop system at the world’s biggest iPhone plant in late October.

Under closed-loop operations, staff live and work on site, isolated from the wider world.

A group of people cross a downed fence following a protest at Foxconn's plant in Zhengzhou, China in this screen grab obtained from a video released November 23, 2022. Video obtained by Reuters

A group of people cross a downed fence following a protest at Foxconn’s plant in Zhengzhou, China in this screen grab obtained from a video released November 23, 2022. Video obtained by Reuters

Former workers estimate that thousands have fled the factory campus. Before the unrest, the Zhengzhou plant employed some 200,000 people. To retain staff and lure more workers Foxconn has had to offer bonuses and higher salaries.

Local authorities also stepped in to help, with some urging retired soldiers and government workers to take on stints, according to local media reports.

The first source said that the eagerness of local authorities to recruit workers may have played a role in causing “miscommunication” with the new hires on issues including allowance and accommodation.

The Zhengzhou government did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Worker woes

In the videos, workers vented about how they were never sure if they would get meals while in quarantine or over inadequate curbs to contain an outbreak.

“Foxconn never treats humans as humans,” said one person.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s now evident that closed-loop production in Foxconn only helps in preventing COVID from spreading to the city, but does nothing (if not make it even worse) for the workers in the factory,” Aiden Chau of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, said in an email.

As of Wednesday afternoon, most of the footage on Kuaishou, a social media platform where Reuters reviewed many of the videos, had been taken down. Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221124/huge-foxconn-iphone-plant-in-china-rocked-by-fresh-worker-unrest/70164.html

International

Monkeypox to be renamed mpox: WHO

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Monkeypox is to be renamed mpox, the World Health Organization announced Monday, in a bid to avoid stigmatisation stemming from the existing name.

Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.

A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May among men who have sex with men, outside the African countries where it has long been endemic.

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out.”

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African nations.

But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world.

The WHO triggered its highest level of alarm on July 24, classifying it as a public health emergency of international concern, alongside COVID-19.

More than 80,000 cases

Some 81,107 confirmed cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year, from 110 countries.

Where the given dataset was known, 97 percent were men, with a median age of 34 years old; 85 percent identified as men who had sex with men, according to the WHO’s case dashboard.

The 10 most affected countries globally are: the United States (29,001), Brazil (9,905), Spain (7,405), France (4,107), Colombia (3,803), Britain (3,720), Germany (3,672), Peru (3,444), Mexico (3,292), and Canada (1,449). They account for 86 percent of the global number of cases.

A total of 588 cases were reported last week. Over the past four weeks, 92 percent of cases were reported from the Americas and six percent from Europe.

Seventy-one countries have reported no new cases in the past 21 days.

It is down to the WHO to assign names to diseases, as it did with Covid-19.

The WHO announced in August it was looking for a new name for the virus, seeking suggestions from experts, countries and the public.

According to WHO best practices in disease naming adopted in 2015, names should aim to minimise unnecessary negative impact.

Considerations include scientific appropriateness, pronounceability, and usability in different languages.

“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimise any ongoing negative impact of the current name,” it said.

The one-year transition is to avoid confusion caused by changing the name in the midst of a global outbreak.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221129/monkeypox-to-be-renamed-mpox-who/70251.html

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World’s largest volcano erupts in Hawaii

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The world’s largest active volcano burst into life for the first time in 40 years, spewing lava and hot ash Monday in a spectacular display of nature’s fury by Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

Rivers of molten rock could be seen high up on the volcano, venting huge clouds of steam and smoke at the summit on Big Island, and sparking warnings the situation could change rapidly.

Pressure has been building at Mauna Loa for years, according to the United States Geological Survey, which reported the eruption could be seen from 45 miles (72 kilometers) away, in the town of Kona the west coast of Hawaii’s main island.

The eruption, which began shortly before midnight Sunday, was initially contained within the caldera — the concave area at the top of the volcano — but vulcanologists said Monday lava was now escaping from cracks in its side.

“The eruption of Mauna Loa has migrated from the summit to the Northeast Rift Zone where fissures are feeding several lava flows,” the USGS said on its website.

The agency said there was currently no threat to people living below the eruption zone, but warned that the volcano was volatile.

“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa rift zone eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

Experts also cautioned that winds could carry volcanic gas and fine ash downslope, as well as Pele’s Hair — the name given to fine strands of volcanic glass formed when lava skeins cool quickly in the air.

Named after Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, the strands can be very sharp and pose potential danger to skin and eyes.

‘Long Mountain’ 

Authorities in Hawaii have not issued any evacuation orders, although the summit area and several roads in the region were closed, and two shelters have been opened as a precaution.

An ashfall advisory has been issued downwind of the volcano, with a light accumulation of ash expected on ships in ocean waters along the Big Island’s southeast.

Vulcanologist Robin George Andrews said the eruption had originally been contained, but was now spreading.

“Oof. Lava is now erupting from fresh vents on the slopes along Mauna Loa’s Northeast Rift Zone, or NERZ. That brings a new hazardous dimension to the eruption,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The fact that it is a hazardous mountain that hasn’t erupted since 1984 — the longest eruptive pause in its recorded history — is why we should all keep an eye on it.”

But Andrews predicted that unless the lava flow rate picks up dramatically, the city of Hilo to the northeast, home to about 44,000 people, “will be okay.”

The largest volcano on Earth by volume, Mauna Loa, whose name means “Long Mountain,” covers half of the Big Island and is larger than the rest of the Hawaiian islands combined.

The volcano’s submarine flanks stretch for miles to an ocean floor that is in turn depressed by Mauna Loa’s great mass — making its summit some 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) above its base, according to the USGS.

One of six active volcanoes on the Hawaiian islands, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843.

Its most recent eruption, in 1984, lasted 22 days and produced lava flows which reached to within about seven kilometers (four miles) of Hilo.

Kilauea, a volcano on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, erupted almost continuously between 1983 and 2019, and a minor eruption there has been ongoing for months.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221129/world-s-largest-volcano-erupts-in-hawaii/70248.html

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Great Barrier Reef risks ‘in danger’ World Heritage listing

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef should be added to a list of “in danger” World Heritage sites, according to UN experts who have warned the fading wonder has been “significantly impacted” by climate change.

A UNESCO-tasked report on Monday said that warming seas and agricultural pollution had put the reef at risk, and that its resilience had been “substantially compromised”.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s premier tourist drawcards, and putting it on the in-danger list could substantially tarnish its international allure.

After intense lobbying, Australia’s previous conservative government managed to keep the reef off the list in the summer of 2021.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the reef supported 60,000 jobs and generated Aus$6 billion ($4 billion) in revenue every year.

Australia’s Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek conceded the reef was under threat, but said putting it on UNESCO’s “World Heritage in Danger” list would be a step too far.

“We’ll clearly make the point to UNESCO that there is no need to single the Great Barrier Reef out in this way,” she told reporters.

“If this World Heritage Site is in danger, then most World Heritage Sites around the world are in danger from climate change.”

World Wildlife Fund spokesman Richard Leck said the UNESCO recommendations should be accepted by the government.

“These UNESCO recommendations are a reminder it is our choice to give the world’s most iconic reef the best chance of survival.”

The latest report, from experts at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNESCO, acknowledged Australia’s commitment to protecting the reef.

But it found that despite the “unparalleled science and management efforts”, the reef still faced “considerable pressures” linked to climate change and pollution from agricultural runoff.

Australia reported in May that 91 percent of the reef’s coral had been damaged by bleaching after a prolonged summer heatwave.

It was the first time on record the reef had suffered bleaching during a La Nina weather cycle, when cooler ocean temperatures would normally be expected.

Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison was voted out earlier this year in favour of a centre-left government promising greener policies and greater climate action.

A UNESCO spokesperson told AFP that “a constructive dialogue is ongoing with the current government”.

To be included on UNESCO’s world heritage list, a site must have “outstanding universal value”.

A spot on the list usually means boosted tourism, and improved access to funds and scientific expertise.

Only three sites have ever been dropped from the heritage list completely.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221129/great-barrier-reef-risks-in-danger-world-heritage-listing/70239.html

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