Foxconn Group has started offering a 10,000 yuan ($1,400) incentive to its Chinese employees who choose to leave, an unusual decision announced after violent protests rocked the world’s largest iPhone factory, reported by news agency Bloomberg. The company has also apologised to the workers after it was rocked by fresh labour unrest.
According to the report, Apple Inc.’s main global production partner said in an online notice the sum, to be paid out in two instalments, will help smooth the journey home for employees.
As reported by Reuters, workers said on videos circulated on social media that they had been informed that Foxconn intended to delay bonus payments. Some also complained they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for Covid. Many of the 200,000-plus workers at Foxconn’s main plant in Zhengzhou hail from elsewhere in the province or country.
“Our team has been looking into the matter and discovered a technical error occurred during the onboarding process,” Foxconn said in a statement, referring to the hiring of new workers, while adding, “We apologise for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual pay is the same as agreed and the official recruitment posters.”
The incentive, which in general exceeds a month’s wages for Foxconn’s blue-collar staff, is likely to appease employees who on Wednesday staged a rare violent protest that trained a spotlight on the economic and social toll of Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero strategy. Hundreds of workers clashed with security personnel in the early hours as tensions boiled over after almost a month under tough restrictions intended to quash a Covid outbreak.
Workers streamed out of dormitories in the early hours, jostling and pushing past the white-clad guards they vastly outnumbered, Bloomberg News reported. Several white-suited people pummelled a person lying on the ground with sticks in another clip. Onlookers yelled “fight, fight!” as throngs of people forced their way past barricades. At one point, several surrounded an occupied police car and began rocking the vehicle while screaming incoherently, the report said.
The protest started overnight over unpaid wages and fears of spreading infection. Several workers were injured and anti-riot police arrived on the scene to restore order, Bloomberg reported.
The plant had resumed normal operations by Wednesday evening, Foxconn said in a statement. But the protests underscored how Xi’s policy, which relies on swift lockdowns to stamp out the disease wherever it pops up, is increasingly weighing on the economy and throwing swathes of the global supply chain into disarray.
Beijing recently issued new directives ordering officials to minimise disruption and use more targeted Covid controls, but surging outbreaks in major cities have forced local authorities to reach for strict curbs again.