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


Hong Kong
CNN Business

Foxconn has offered to pay new hires 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to walk out of the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in central China to quell protests in which hundreds of people clashed with security forces.

The Apple supplier made the offer in a message from its human resources department to employees on Wednesday after violent protests broke out at its campus in Zhengzhou, central Henan province.

According to CNN, the company urged employees to “return to their dormitories” on campus. They also promised to pay 8,000 yuan if they were allowed to leave Foxconn, and 2,000 yuan after boarding the bus.

On Tuesday night there were protests over the new workers’ pay package and Covid. concerned about their living conditions. On Wednesday, the scenes turned violent as the workers clashed with a large number of people security forces, including SWAT team officers.

Videos circulating on social media showed law enforcement officers in tattered clothing kicking and hitting protesters with batons and metal rods. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing glass and barriers at workers, vandalizing and overturning police cars.

A group of security personnel wearing hazmat suits kicked and beat the worker who was lying on the ground.

A witness told CNN that the protest was largely over by around 10pm on Wednesday when workers accepted Foxconn’s payment offer and returned to their dormitories, fearing tougher action from authorities.

The Zhengzhou factory was hit by a Covid outbreak in October, closing it down and forcing a mass exodus of workers. Then Foxconn More than 100,000 people have started recruitment, including more than 100,000 people who have registered for the advertised positions, according to Chinese state media.

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According to a document detailing the salary package for new hires shown to CNN, workers were promised a bonus of 3,000 yuan after 30 days of work and another 3,000 yuan after a total of 60 days.

However, Foxconn said new hires would receive their first bonus on March 15 and the second in May after arriving at the plant, according to one employee. Receive the first part of the incentive payment from January 2023.

“New recruits felt cheated because they had to work more days to get the bonus they were promised,” an employee told CNN.

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

In a statement on Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understands the concerns of new entrants about “potential changes in subsidy policy” and blamed “a technical error (in) the process of highlighting”.

“We apologize for the input error in the computer system and the actual salary will be as agreed,” it said.

Foxconn maintains that it will communicate with workers and pay wages and bonuses “in accordance with company policy.”

Foxconn, the Apple company that makes a variety of products, told CNN Business that employees are working at the Zhengzhou facility.

“We are monitoring the situation and working closely with Foxconn to resolve their employee concerns,” the statement said.

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Some of the workers who had agreed to walk off the job early Thursday had received the first part of their payments, a worker said in a live stream that showed workers lining up outside. get tested for Covid while waiting for the bus to leave. In the evening, a long queue of workers boarded the bus was seen on the live stream.

But for some, the problem is not over. After being taken to Zhengzhou train station, many people were unable to get tickets home, another worker said in a live broadcast on Thursday afternoon. Thousands of workers like him were stuck at the station, he said, turning his camera around to show the crowd.

The city of Zhengzhou has announced a five-day lockdown starting at midnight on Friday in areas of the city, including the train station.

Workers are confronted by security personnel wearing hazmat suits.

Protests began Tuesday night outside employee dormitories on the sprawling Foxconn campus, with hundreds of people marching and chanting slogans such as “Down with Foxconn,” according to social media videos and witness accounts. The footage showed workers clashing with security forces and police resisting tear gas.

The standoff continued into Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated as a large number of security forces were dispatched to the scene, most of them dressed in white gamut, some carrying shields and batons. Columns of police cars, some with “SWAT” markings, lined the campus, home to about 200,000 workers.

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A worker told CNN that many workers joined the protest after watching live streams on Kuaishou and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. Many live streams were interrupted or censored. Online searches for “Foxconn” in Chinese are restricted.

Some protesters tried to block the assembly by marching to the main entrance of the production facility, which is located in a separate area from the workers’ dormitory, the worker said.

Other protesters took the next step to enter the production site. They broke the Covid testing booth, glass doors and billboards of the restaurant in the industrial area, the worker said.

Having worked at the Zhengzhou factory for six years, he said he is now so disillusioned with Foxconn that he plans to quit. With a basic salary of 2,300 yuan a month, he earns 4,000 to 5,000 yuan a month including overtime for 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the pandemic.

“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said. “Not only did it not spread the values ​​of Taiwan’s democracy and freedom to the mainland, but it assimilated into the Chinese Communist Party and became very cruel and inhumane.” I’m very sorry about that.”

Although he was not one of the new recruits, he supported them and said, “If today I am silent about the plight of others, who will speak for me tomorrow?”

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