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


Hongkong
CNN

Foxconn has offered to pay 10,000 yuan ($1,400) for newly recruited workers to resign and leave the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in an attempt to quell protests that saw hundreds clash with security forces at a compound in central China.

The Apple supplier made the offer in a text message sent to employees by its human resources department on Wednesday following dramatic scenes of violent protests at its campus in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province.

In a message seen by CNN, the company urged employees to “please return to your residence halls on campus.” It also promised to pay them 8,000 yuan if they agreed to quit Foxconn, and another 2,000 yuan after they left the sprawling factory in a bus.

Protests erupted on Tuesday night over payment schemes and Covid-related terms for new staff worry about their living conditions.Scenes turned increasingly violent on Wednesday as workers clashed with large numbers of workers Security forces, including SWAT officers.

Videos circulating on social media showed a group of law enforcement officers in hazmat suits kicking and beating protesters with batons and metal bars. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing bottles and barricades at officers and smashing and overturning police cars.

A group of security guards in hazmat suits punched and kicked a worker who had fallen to the ground.

An eyewitness told CNN that the protests largely ended around 10 p.m. Wednesday as workers returned to their dorms after receiving a payment offer from Foxconn and feared a tougher crackdown by authorities.

The Zhengzhou factory was forced to close due to the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia epidemic in October, causing a large number of workers to flee the epidemic.Foxconn later China has launched a massive recruitment drive, with more than 100,000 people signing up for positions, according to Chinese state media.

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Workers are promised a $3,000 bonus after 30 days of work and another $3,000 after a total of 60 days, according to a document seen by CNN outlining new hire wages.

However, according to a worker, after the new employees arrived at the factory, Foxconn told them that they would not be able to receive their first bonus until March 15, and the second bonus in May, which meant they had to work until the Lunar New Year holiday. Start in January 2023 to get your first bonus.

“New employees have to work extra days to get their promised bonuses, so they feel cheated,” the worker told CNN.

Workers threw parts of the metal fence they had removed at police.

In a statement on Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understood newcomers’ concerns about “possible changes in the subsidy policy” and blamed it on “technical errors during the onboarding process.”

“We apologize for the input error in the computer system and assure that the wages actually paid were the same as agreed,” it said.

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

Apple, for which Foxconn makes a range of products, told CNN Business that its employees are on the ground at the Zhengzhou factory.

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

Some workers who agreed to leave received their first payments Thursday morning, one worker said in a live broadcast that showed workers queuing outdoors Take a Covid test while waiting for the departing bus. Later in the day, a live stream showed workers lining up to board the bus.

But for some, the troubles are far from over. On Thursday afternoon, another worker said live that after being driven to the Zhengzhou train station, many were unable to buy tickets to go home. Like him, tens of thousands of workers were trapped at the station, he said, as he turned his camera on the massive crowd.

Authorities had earlier announced that Zhengzhou would impose a five-day lockdown in the urban area, including the train station, from midnight on Friday.

Workers confronted security guards in hazmat suits.

The protests began Tuesday night outside worker dormitories on the sprawling Foxconn campus, with hundreds marching and chanting slogans, including “Down with Foxconn,” according to social media videos and eyewitness accounts. Video showed workers clashing with security guards and fighting back tear gas fired by police.

The standoff continued into Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated when a large number of security personnel, mostly in white protective suits and some armed with shields and batons, was deployed to the scene. The video showed a line of police cars, some marked “SWAT,” driving into the complex, which is usually home to some 200,000 workers.

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The worker told CNN that more workers joined the protest after seeing livestreams on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, China’s version of TikTok. Many live streams were cut or censored. Online searches for “Foxconn” in Chinese have been restricted.

Some protesters marched to the main gate of the production facility compound, which is separate from the workers’ dormitories, to try to stop the assembly work, the worker said.

Other protesters took the further step of breaking into the production compound. According to the worker, they smashed Covid-testing tables, glass doors and billboards in the restaurant in the production area.

He, who has worked at the Zhengzhou factory for six years, said he is now deeply disappointed with Foxconn and intends to resign. His bottom-line monthly salary is 2,300 yuan. During the epidemic, he worked 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, plus overtime pay, and his monthly income was between 4,000 and 5,000 yuan.

“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said. “Not only did Taiwan’s values ​​of democracy and freedom not spread to the mainland, but it was also communitized by China and became so cruel and inhuman.” I feel very sad about this. ”

While he was not one of the recruits, he joined them in protesting in support, adding: “If I remain silent about the suffering of others today, who will speak for me tomorrow?”

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