Workers clash with police at China’s Covid test kit factory – Times of India


BEIJING: Dozens of workers have clashed with police at a Covid test kit factory in China, videos circulated on social media showed on Sunday, as the country eases away from its tough virus policy.
Footage geolocated by AFP to an industrial estate in the southwestern city of Chongqing shows people throwing crates at a group of uniformed men, sending what appear to be test kits flying in a shower.
Another clip shows a crowd in front of a line of police at night, as loudspeakers play an alert demanding they “cease illegal activity”.
A man who posted video of the scene said in an accompanying caption that many workers had not been paid.
Other reports claimed that the Chongqing-based pharmaceutical company Zybio suddenly fired employees who were hired in the past few weeks.
Zybio did not immediately respond to calls from AFP, while local police declined to comment.
“All the workers’ demands are economic in nature,” said a man in a video who called himself a “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.” He insisted there was no political motive behind the protest.
AFP could not confirm exactly when the videos were taken, although multiple social media users said the clash happened on Saturday night into Sunday morning.
The background of the videos clearly shows patterned brown and white industrial buildings, which match previous images of Zybio’s factory in Dadukou District Jianqiao Industrial Park.
The hashtag “Chongqing Dadukou Pharmaceutical Factory” appeared to be censored on popular social media platform Weibo on Sunday, with only one post from the previous day still visible describing the protest as an “interesting topic”.
A video posted to a state-owned news outlet’s TikTok account showed what it claimed was a street littered with antigen tests in an industrial park in Chongqing.
“Sources say a labor dispute caused a conflict,” the caption read. The video was removed within hours.
Covid-19 infections have surged across China as the government moves away from its zero-tolerance approach to the virus, leading to a spike in demand for test kits and medicines.
Authorities took over production lines from more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies last month, while some companies hired new employees to meet rising demand.
Protests targeting labor issues and targeting individual companies are common in China, despite official efforts to quell the unrest.
Similar scenes played out at iPhone maker Foxconn’s factory in central China last year, as irate workers dissatisfied with a Covid lockdown and pay disputes clashed with police.
China’s strict Covid restrictions sparked some of the country’s worst unrest in years in November, with hundreds taking to the streets across the country against lockdowns and mandatory testing.
Virus restrictions were eased shortly after the protests.

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