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


hong kong
CNN Business

Foxconn has offered to pay 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to newly hired workers to walk out of the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant, hoping to quell hundreds of protests that have clashed with security forces at a compound in central China.

The Apple supplier responded to the dramatic force protest at its campus in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, in a text message from the manpower department to workers on Wednesday.

In a message seen by CNN, the company urged workers on campus to “please go back to your bedrooms.” He also promised to pay Foxconn 8,000 yuan if they agreed to leave, and another 2,000 yuan after they boarded buses to leave the sprawling area entirely.

The protest was sparked on Tuesday night over the new hires’ pay packages and Covid-related contracts. Concern about their living conditions. On Wednesday, the scenes turned increasingly violent when workers clashed with large numbers Security forces including SWAT team officers.

Videos circulating on social media showed groups of law enforcement officers dressed in hazmat suits kicking and beating protesters with batons and iron rods. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing bottles and bumpers at officers, and smashing and overturning police vehicles.

Security personnel in hazmat suits kicked a worker who was lying on the ground.

The protest mainly took place around 10 a.m. Wednesday, when workers returned to their bedrooms after receiving Foxconn payments and fearing a crackdown by authorities, a witness told CNN.

The Zhengzhou plant was hit by a Covid outbreak in October, forcing it to close and causing many workers to flee the outbreak. After Foxconn Chinese state media reported that more than 100,000 people have registered to fill advertised positions following the start of a massive recruitment campaign.

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

However, according to one worker, after arriving at the plant, Foxconn’s new hires receive their first bonus only on March 15 and the second payment in May – meaning they have to work on the Lunar New Year holiday. Bonus payments starting in January 2023 to get the first one.

“The new recruits had to work extra days to get the bonuses they were promised,” the employee told CNN.

The workers threw the part of the metal barrier that they demolished to the police.

In a statement Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understood the new hires’ concerns about “potential changes to its subsidy policy,” which it blamed on a “technical error in the board’s process.”

“We apologize for the input error in the computer system and confirm that the actual payment is the same as agreed.”

Foxconn was communicating with workers and assuring them that wages and bonuses would be paid “in accordance with company policy.”

Apple, where Foxconn manufactures a variety of products, told CNN Business that workers are on the ground at the Zhengzhou facility.

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

Some workers who had agreed to walk out on Thursday morning had received the first installment of their payments, a worker said on live television, which showed workers lining up outside. To take covid tests while waiting for departing buses. Later in the day, live broadcasts showed long lines of workers boarding buses.

But for some, the problem is far from over. After being driven to Zhengzhou train station, many were unable to get a ticket home, another worker said on live broadcast Thursday afternoon. He said thousands of workers like him were stuck at the station, trying to show the camera to the crowd.

Zhengzhou is to impose a five-day lockdown in the city’s districts, including the railway station, starting at midnight on Friday, officials announced earlier.

Employees meet with hazmat-compliant safety officers.

The protest began outside staff quarters at the sprawling Foxconn campus on Tuesday night, with hundreds chanting slogans including “Down with Foxconn” on social media videos and witnesses. Videos show the workers clashing with security and fighting tear gas fired by police.

The fight lasted till Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated when several security forces, clad in white hazmat suits and carrying some shields and batons, were deployed to the scene. Videos show columns of police vehicles, some marked “SWAT,” arriving at the campus, typically staffed by about 200,000 personnel.

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More workers joined the protest after watching live streams on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, the worker told CNN. Many live broadcasts have been cut or censored. Online searches for “Foxcon” in Chinese are limited.

The worker said that some of the protesters had marched to the main gate of the production facility, which is located at a different location from the workers’ quarters, to block assembly work.

Other protesters took further steps to enter the production premises. They smashed the Covid testing booths, glass doors and billboards at the restaurants in the manufacturing area, the worker said.

After working at the Zhengzhou factory for six years, he said he was now very disappointed with Foxconn and planned to leave. With a starting monthly salary of 2,300 yuan, 4,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan a month, including overtime pay, he has been working 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the pandemic.

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

Although he was not one of the new recruits, he said, “If I remain silent today about the suffering of others, who will speak for me tomorrow?” He explained to his supporters.

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