Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay workers to quit and leave Zhengzhou campus

Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay workers to quit and leave Zhengzhou campus

Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay workers to quit and leave Zhengzhou campus

Hong Kong
CNN Business

Foxconn has offered to pay newly hired workers 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to quit and leave the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant, in an attempt to quell protests in which hundreds clashed with security forces in a complex in central China.

The Apple supplier made the offer on Wednesday after dramatic scenes of violent protests at its campus in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, in a text message its human resources department sent to workers.

In a message seen by CNN, the company urged workers to “please return to your dormitories” on campus. He also promised to pay them 8,000 yuan if they agreed to leave Foxconn, and another 2,000 yuan after they board buses to leave the sprawling site entirely.

The protest broke out on Tuesday evening due to the conditions of pay packages for new employees and related to Covid concern for their living conditions. Scenes turned increasingly violent on Wednesday as workers clashed with large numbers of workers security forces, including SWAT team officers.

Footage circulating on social media shows groups of police officers dressed in protective suits kicking and hitting protesters with batons and metal rods. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing bottles and barriers at police officers and smashing and overturning police vehicles.

The protest largely ended around 10 p.m. Wednesday when workers returned to their dormitories, after receiving Foxconn’s offer of payment and fearing a tougher crackdown from the authorities, a witness told CNN.

The Zhengzhou factory was hit by the Covid outbreak in October, forcing it to close and leading to a mass exodus of workers fleeing the outbreak. Foxconn later launched a massive recruitment drive, in which more than 100,000 people signed up to fill advertised positions, Chinese state media reports.

According to a document detailing the new hires’ salary package seen by CNN, workers were promised a 3,000 yuan bonus after 30 days on the job, with another 3,000 yuan to be paid after a total of 60 days.

However, according to one worker, after arriving at the factory, Foxconn told the new recruits that they would only receive the first bonus on March 15 and the second installment in May – meaning they must work during the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins in January 2023. year, in order to receive the first of the bonus payments.

“The new recruits had to work more days to get the promised bonus, so they felt cheated,” the worker told CNN.

Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay workers to quit and leave Zhengzhou campus

In a statement on Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understands new recruits’ concerns about “possible changes in subsidy policy”, which it blamed on “a technical error (that) occurred during the enrollment process”.

“We apologize for the input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual salary is the same as agreed,” it said.

Foxconn communicated with employees and assured them that wages and bonuses would be paid “in accordance with company policy,” it said.

Apple, for which Foxconn makes a range of products, told CNN Business that its employees are on the ground at the Zhengzhou facility.

“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed,” the statement said.

On Thursday morning, some workers who agreed to leave received the first part of their payment, the worker said in a live stream, which showed workers queuing outdoors to do Covid tests while waiting for departing buses. Later in the day, live broadcasts showed long lines of workers boarding buses.

But for some, the trouble is far from over. After being driven to the Zhengzhou train station, many were unable to get a ticket home, another worker said in a live broadcast on Thursday afternoon. Like him, thousands of workers were stuck at the station, he said, as he panned the camera to show the huge crowds.

Zhengzhou will impose a five-day lockdown in its urban districts, including the railway station, starting at midnight on Friday, authorities announced earlier.

Workers face security officers in protective suits.

The protest began outside worker dormitories on the sprawling Foxconn campus on Tuesday night, with hundreds marching and chanting slogans including “Down with Foxconn,” according to social media videos and witness accounts. The videos show workers clashing with security guards and resisting tear gas fired by the police.

The outage lasted until Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated when a large number of security forces, most in white protective suits and some with shields and batons, were deployed to the scene. Videos show convoys of police vehicles, some marked “SWAT,” arriving at the campus, which is normally home to about 200,000 workers.

More workers joined the protest after seeing the live stream on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, a worker told CNN. Many live broadcasts are cut or censored. Online search for “Foxconn” in Chinese is limited.

Some protesters marched to the main gate of the manufacturing facility complex, which is located in an area separate from workers’ dormitories, in an attempt to block assembly work, the worker said.

Other protesters took it a step further by breaking into a manufacturing facility. They smashed the Covid testing booths, glass doors and billboards in restaurants in the production area, a worker says.

After working at the Zhengzhou factory for six years, he said he is now deeply disillusioned with Foxconn and plans to quit. With a basic monthly salary of 2,300 yuan, he earned between 4,000 and 5,000 yuan a month, including overtime pay, working 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the pandemic.

“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said. “Not only did he not extend Taiwan’s values ​​of democracy and freedom to the mainland, but he was assimilated by the Chinese Communist Party and became so cruel and inhumane. I am very sad about that.”

Although he was not one of the new recruits, he protested with them in support, adding: “If today I remain silent about the suffering of others, who will speak for me tomorrow?”

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