PortandTerminal.com, February 6, 2020
Foxconn has announced plans to quarantine their iPhone workers when they return to work on February 10, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus
SHANGHAI – By any measure, working at a Foxxconn factory isn’t an easy job. Back in 2010, eighteen workers in despair threw themselves from the tops of the company’s buildings, with 14 deaths. In the aftermath of the suicides, Foxconn was forced to install safety nets in some of its factories and hired counsellors to help its workers.
The lives of Foxxconn workers are about to get even more difficult. Foxconn has announced plans to quarantine their iPhone workers when they return to work on February 10, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
In fairness to Foxconn, the company may have little choice. Their biggest factory is in Zhengzhou in the Henan province, just 300 miles from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak. In Hubei, the province where Wuhan located there are 19,665 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
In Henan province where Zhengzhou and Foxconn’s largest factory is located, there are also 851 confirmed cases of the virus as of February 6, 2020. To put that lower number of cases in Henan into perspective, 851 is still more than triple the number of coronavirus cases in the rest of the world.
Foxconn is correct to assume that their thousands of workers risk coming into contact with the virus every day.
Why the urgency to reopen now?
A report this week said that iPhone shipments would be hit if supplier plants don’t re-open on February 10.
The Chinese government asked factories to remain closed after the Chinese new year holiday, reopening on February 10. Some though have suggested that this is too soon. It has been demonstrated that it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to manifest and that those infected can be contagious before they are showing any signs of illness.
Under pressure to deliver, the Foxconn has come up with the plan to quarantine its workers on in company dormitories so that it can more safely being operations on February 10th. Many Foxconn workers live on-site during their working weeks anyway, making the quarantine plan feasible.
Apple has for now simply acknowledged the uncertainties created by the coronavirus, and given broader-than-usual guidance for the current quarter. The company has also closed its own retail stores and offices in the country until February 10.
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