Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay its 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 forsake work and leave the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant, in a bid to suppress Protests witnessed hundreds of clashes with security forces In the compound 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 sent by its human resources department to workers.

In the letter, seen by CNN, the company urged workers to “please return to your residences” on campus. She also promised to pay 8,000 yuan if they agreed to leave Foxconn, and another 2,000 yuan after they boarded buses to leave the sprawling site entirely.

The protest broke out on Tuesday night over the terms of new employee and Covid-related payment packages concerns about their living conditions. The scenes turned increasingly violent on Wednesday as workers clashed with scores of the security forces, including SWAT officers.

Videos circulating on social media showed groups of law enforcement officers in protective suits kicking and hitting protesters with batons and metal rods. Some workers were seen breaking fences, throwing bottles and barricades at officers, and smashing and overturning police vehicles.

A witness told CNN the protest largely died down around 10 p.m. Wednesday as the workers returned to their dormitories, after receiving a payment offer from Foxconn and fearing a harsher crackdown by authorities.

The Zhengzhou factory was hit by an outbreak of the Covid virus in October, which forced it to close and led to an exodus of workers fleeing the outbreak. Foxconn later Launch a massive recruitment drive More than 100,000 people have signed up To fill the advertised positions, Chinese state media reported.

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According to a document outlining the salary package for new hires seen by CNN, the workers were promised a 3,000 yuan bonus after 30 days of work, with another 3,000 yuan paid after 60 days.

However, according to a 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 payment in May — which means they must work during the Lunar New Year holidays, which start in January 2023, to get On the first batch of bonuses.

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

Workers throw parts of the metal barriers they demolished at the police.

In a statement Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understands new recruits’ concerns about “potential changes to support policy,” which it blamed on a “technical error (occurred) during the onboarding process.”

“We apologize for the error in entering the computer system and guarantee that the actual pay is the same as agreed,” she said.

Foxconn said it is communicating with employees and assuring them that salaries and bonuses will be paid “in accordance with company policies.”

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

“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure that its employees’ concerns are addressed,” it said in a statement.

On Thursday morning, some of the workers who agreed to leave received the first part of the payment, a worker said in a live broadcast that showed the workers lining up outdoors. To take covid tests while waiting for buses to leave. Later in the day, the live feed showed long lines of workers boarding buses.

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But for some, the problem is far from over. After they were taken to Zhengzhou Train Station, many could not get tickets home, another worker said in a live broadcast on Thursday noon. Like him, thousands of workers were stuck in the station, he said, as he turned his camera to show the large crowds.

Authorities earlier announced that Zhengzhou will impose a five-day lockdown in its metropolitan areas, which include the train station, starting Friday midnight.

The workers are confronted by security officers in protective gear.

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

The confrontation continued until Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated when a large number of security forces, most of them wearing white protective suits and some carrying shields and batons, were deployed to the scene. Videos showed lines of police vehicles, some labeled “SWAT”, arriving at the campus, which is usually home to about 200,000 workers.

More workers joined the protest after watching live broadcasts on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, the worker told CNN. Many live broadcasts have been cut or censored. Internet searches for “Foxconn” in Chinese were restricted.

The worker said that some protesters marched to the main gate of the production facility complex, which is located in a separate area from the workers’ quarters, in an effort to disrupt assembly work.

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Other protesters took another step by storming the production complex. They smashed Covid test booths, glass doors and billboards at restaurants in the production area, according to the worker.

After working in the Zhengzhou factory for six years, he said he is now very disappointed with Foxconn and plans to quit. With a basic monthly salary of 2,300 yuan, he was paid 4,000 to 5,000 yuan per month, including overtime pay, and worked 10 hours a day and seven days a week during the epidemic.

He said, “Foxconn is a Taiwanese company.” “Not only has it not spread Taiwan’s values ​​of democracy and freedom to the mainland, it has been internalized by the CCP and has become cruel and inhumane. I feel very sad about it.”

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

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