Hundreds of MacBook Pro Employees Break Barriers

Video footage (below) has been shared showing hundreds of MacBook Pro employees breaking through the COVID barriers designed to keep them inside a Chinese factory. Some can be seen fighting with guards dressed in white protective overalls.

The factory, which is owned by Quanta Computer, operates under strict lockdown conditions that go even beyond the “closed” manufacturing system used in many facilities to make Apple products…

Background

While most countries accept that we will have to learn to live with COVID-19, the Chinese government believes it is possible to completely eradicate the infection from the country. It applies strict lockdowns when even a handful of cases are discovered within a city.

Just this week, Zhengzhou — dubbed iPhone City because it’s home to the largest iPhone factory in the world — went into lockdown.

Closed-loop production processes are allowed to avoid closure of production sites. This is where employees live in on-site dormitories, with none of them allowed to enter or leave the facility for a month or more at a time. Apple hoped this approach could protect iPhone 14 production by recruiting workers before they are needed, but that plan has now been shelved.

Quanta’s iPhone factory in Shanghai operates the closed system.

MacBook Pro employees break COVID barriers

Taiwanese Economic Newspaper reports that hundreds of MacBook Pro employees have climbed barriers designed to keep them inside the factory. It happened when workers on a break were not allowed to return to their dormitories to rest.

Bloomberg describes it as a major challenge to the containment policy of the Chinese government.

Hundreds of workers at a technology factory in China clashed with authorities and flooded isolation barriers after being closed for weeks, a stunning failure in the Communist Party’s efforts to contain Covid-19 infections.

The Shanghai factory, which is owned by Taiwanese Quanta Computer Inc. and makes devices for Apple Inc., among others, has been running under strict restrictions since early April. In a video shared on Twitter and YouTube, workers ran through barriers and became entangled with guards in white protective clothing who tried to keep them inside.

Quanta employees confirmed the collision happened Thursday night, while the company did not immediately comment. An employee said people are concerned about further tightening as there are positive Covid cases on campus. The government plays a central role in managing the plant’s operations, another worker on site said.

The people of Shanghai – subject to some of the most severe and lengthy lockdowns – are growing increasingly frustrated with containment policies, but it is rare to see such direct rebellion in a country known for harsh punishments for those who defy government regulations.

Further delays in MacBook Pro likely

While the biggest concern here is obviously for the workers, it’s probably bad news for those waiting for MacBook Pro deliveries as well.

Economic Newspaper says Quanta’s factory is only running at about 30% capacity due to the disruption and doesn’t expect to get better than 50% even as things calm down.

This will likely prolong the delays for MacBook Pro orders, which have been going on for many months. Yesterday, we noted that some readers have been emailed by Apple about delays in orders placed in February. Some have been told their machines won’t ship until July, about five months after orders are placed.

Any increase in this delay could result in customers having to wait six months for their MacBook Pro models.

The incident is likely to increase pressure on the Chinese government to reconsider its COVID containment policy.

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