New Delhi: Foxconn said on Thursday a pay-related “technical error” occurred while hiring new recruits at a COVID-hit iPhone factory in China and the company apologized to employees following fresh labor unrest. Men smashed surveillance cameras and clashed with security personnel as hundreds of workers protested at the world’s largest iPhone plant in the city of Zhengzhou on Wednesday, in rare scenes of open dissent in China over overdue pay and severe COVID-19 restrictions. broke out due to
The workers said on video circulated on social media that they had been informed that Apple Inc wanted to delay supplier bonus payments. Some workers also complained that they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for COVID.
“Our team is investigating the matter and a technical error occurred during the onboarding process,” Foxconn said in a statement.
“We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual salary is agreed and identical to the official recruitment posters.” It did not elaborate on the error.
The apology came a day after Foxconn said it had fulfilled its payment contracts. The unrest comes at a time when China is recording a record number of COVID-19 infections and battling more and more lockdowns that have fueled despair among citizens across the country. But it has also exposed communication problems and distrust of Foxconn management among some employees.
A Foxconn source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday that the largest protests had ended and the company was in communication with employees engaged in smaller protests. The person said the company had reached a “preliminary agreement” with the workers to resolve the dispute and production at the plant was continuing.
Growing worker discontent over COVID outbreaks, strict quarantine rules and food shortages had seen many workers flee the closed factory premises since October, when management implemented a so-called closed-loop system that allowed plant-wide shutdowns. was cut off from the world.
Many new recruits were hired to replace the furloughed workers—the number was estimated by some former employees to be in the thousands. The Taiwanese company said it would respect the wishes of new recruits who want to resign and leave the factory premises, and would offer them a “care subsidy”. The Foxconn source said the subsidy amounts to 10,000 yuan ($1,400) per employee.
Home to more than 200,000 workers, Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant has dormitories, restaurants, basketball courts and a football pitch at the nearly 1.4 million square meter facility.
The factory makes Apple devices including the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, and accounts for 70% of iPhone shipments globally. Apple said it had employees at the factory and was “working closely with Foxconn to address the concerns of its employees.” Several shareholder activists told Reuters the protests showed the risks Apple faces through its reliance on manufacturing in China.
Christina O’Connell, a senior manager at SumOfUs, a nonprofit corporate responsibility group, said, “With Apple’s excessive reliance on China, both as a (consumer) market and as a location of primary manufacturing, we see that It’s a very risky situation.” ,
Reuters reported last month that iPhone production at the Zhengzhou factory could drop by 30% in November and Foxconn aimed to resume full production there by the second half of the month.
A Foxconn source familiar with the matter said it was not immediately clear how much of an impact the workers’ protest could have on production for November and that it could take days to get back to work, citing the factory’s large size.
A separate source stated that the unrest had made it certain that they would not be able to resume full production until the end of the month.
Apple has warned that it expects fewer shipments of premium iPhone 14 models than previously anticipated.