December 9, 2022
Foxconn apologizes for pay dispute that sparked violent protests at Chinese iPhone factory

Foxconn, the electronics manufacturing company that assembles Apple’s iPhones, apologized on Thursday for the pay dispute massive employee protestsand violent police crackdowns at a factory in central China where anti-virus controls slowed production.

Growing unrest at the Zhengzhou factory has been building for at least a month, since thousands of workers staged a walkout in October over what they said were unsafe working conditions linked to the spread of COVID-19. All this is happening at a time when China is battling a surge in virus infections, especially being seen in highly populated cities.

Following the exodus, Foxconn hired a slate of new employees. Allegations that the company illegally changed its policies for incoming workers, who they say were hired with the promise of higher wages than they actually received, led to protests at the factory.

Videos shared on social media earlier this week showed a particularly large demonstration in Zhengzhou involving thousands of people, wearing masks and protective suits and holding riot shields, confronting police officers Was falling Police beat and kicked a protester with lathis when the man grabbed the metal pole that was being used to beat him. Witnesses also said that iPhone factory workers were beaten and detained amid the protests.

Virus Outbreak China iPhone Factory
In this picture provided on November 23, 2022, security personnel in protective clothing carry a man during a protest at a factory compound run by Foxconn Technology Group, which runs the world’s biggest Apple iPhone factory, in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province Was seen to happen.

The Associated Press

Foxconn, the largest contract assembler of smartphones and other electronics for Apple and other global brands, addressed complaints from employees about pay discrepancies in Thursday’s apology. The company blamed a “technical error” in the process of adding new employees and said they would be paid what they were promised.

“We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual salary is the same as agreed and on the official recruitment poster,” a company statement said. It promised to “do its best to actively address the concerns and reasonable demands of the employees.”

Late Wednesday, Apple said it had people on the ground at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility.

“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to address the concerns of employees,” said the Cupertino, California-based company.

The controversy comes as the ruling Communist Party tries to stem a rise in coronavirus cases without shutting down factories, as happened at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Its strategy includes “closed-loop management”, or having employees stay at their workplaces without outside contact.

Officials last month pledged to ease economic disruption by cutting quarantine times and making other changes to China’s “zero-covid” strategy, which aims to isolate every case. Despite this, the infection surge has prompted authorities to suspend access to neighborhoods and factories, and to close office buildings, shops and restaurants in parts of many cities.

A total of 6.6 million residents in eight districts of Zhengzhou were told to stay home for five days on Thursday. Daily mass testing was ordered in a “war of annihilation” against the virus.

Apple previously warned that iPhone 14 deliveries would be delayed after workers walked out of the Zhengzhou factory and access to the industrial area surrounding the facility was suspended following the outbreak.

To attract the new workers, Foxconn offered $3,500 for two months of work, or about 50% more than news reports typically say the highest wages, according to employees.

Employees complained that after they arrived, they were told they would have to work an additional two months for lower pay in order to receive a higher salary, according to Li Sanshan, an employee.

Foxconn offered up to $1,400 to new hires who choose to leave, finance news outlet Calianche reported, citing unnamed recruiting agents.

Foxconn’s statement Thursday said employees leaving would receive an unspecified “care subsidy,” but gave no details. It promised “broad support” for the occupants.

Millions of people have been confined to their homes amid protests in Zhengzhou amid the frustration of people. Videos on social media show residents in some areas breaking barricades put up to enforce neighborhood shutdowns.

Foxconn, which is headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, previously denied that online comments said workers with the virus lived in factory dormitories.

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