Mass dismissals due to a sharp decrease in orders from Apple Inc. Protests broke out in Biel Crystal Manufactory (Huizhou) Limited
Since the US-China Trade War broke out, it has been accompanied with the projection of a grim future for China’s manufacturing industry. In addition, weaker iPhone demand has a profound negative impact on the technology supply chain, as it is reported that Apple would decrease its iPhone XR orders by 20% to 25%. As a result, its supplier, Hong Kong-owned Biel Crystal Manufactory has allegedly laid off many workers, sparking protests in Huizhou, Guangdong Province.
Since early November, online news have reported that its Huizhou plant dismissed 5,000 and 3,000 workers respectively. The timing, shortly before new year when workers can hardly find new jobs; and a disappointing compensation scheme triggered workers to protest on 9 November. It is reported that Biel Crystal suddenly employed a large number of workers due to labour shortage not too long ago and as it dismissed thousands of temporary workers, both the workers and their labour agencies are very resentful.
On 9 November, some hundreds of workers surrounded the Huizhou Plant, demanding to negotiate regarding their jobs and compensation, as well as the wages of October. Some of their family members joined the protests as well. It is reported that at its peak, almost 10,000 people gathered outside the plant. A large number of riot police arrived to maintain order. The collective action lasted until 12th November, when Biel Crystal negotiated with the workers to reach a preliminary agreement: all dismissed workers would receive the wages before 25th November. Workers gradually left but there are reports that a small number of workers were still protesting outside the factory on 13th November.
Besides Biel Crystal, other major Apple suppliers such as Flex Ltd., Foxconn and etc., have also been reported that due the insufficient orders from Apple Inc., they had to reduce production and arrange workers to take leave. The difficult situation of workers are indeed caused by the brand and the ultimate owner of the products, thus, Apple Inc. has the responsibility to ensure its suppliers to properly settle with their workers and pay the workers' salaries and compensation in accordance with the law.