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

Foxconn protests: iPhone factory offers to pay workers to leave Zhengzhou campus
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Hong Kong
CNN Business

Foxconn has offered to pay newly hired workers 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to leave the world’s largest iPhone assembly factory. protests where hundreds of people clashed with security forces in the compound in central China.

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

In the message CNN saw, the company urged employees to “return to your dorms” on campus. He also promised to pay them 8,000 yuan if they agreed to leave Foxconn, and another 2,000 yuan after they got on the bus to leave the expanded space altogether.

Protest broke out on Tuesday night over the terms of new hires’ pay packages and Covid. concerns about living conditions. On Wednesday, the scenes became increasingly violent as workers clashed with large numbers of workers. Security forces, including SWAT team officers.

Videos circulating on social media show law enforcement dressed in protective gear kicking and beating protesters with batons and metal rods. Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing bottles and barriers at police officers, and smashing and overturning police vehicles.

A group of security guards dressed in protective gear kicked and beat a worker lying on the ground.

The protest largely ended at around 10 pm Wednesday when workers who had received Foxconn’s offer to pay and feared harsher repression from the authorities returned to their dorms, a witness told CNN.

The Zhengzhou factory was hit by a Covid epidemic in October, which forced it into lockdown and led to a mass exodus of workers fleeing the epidemic. Foxconn later launched a massive recruitment campaign. More than 100,000 people signed up Chinese state media to fill the announced positions.

According to a document revealing the salary package for the new hires seen by CNN, the workers were promised a bonus of 3,000 yuan after 30 days of work, and an additional 3,000 yuan will be paid 60 days later, for a total of 60 days.

However, after arriving at the factory, Foxconn told new hires that they would only receive the first bonus on March 15 and the second installment in May, meaning they must work during the Lunar New Year holiday, according to one worker. starting January 2023 to receive the first of the bonus payments.

“New hires had to work harder to get the bonus they were promised, so they felt cheated,” Labor told CNN.

Workers throw pieces of metal barriers they smashed at police.

In a statement Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understood the new hires’ concerns about “possible changes in subsidy policy”, saying it was due to a “technical error that occurred in the relationship process”.

“We apologize for a login error in the computer system and we assure you that the actual payment is the same as agreed,” he said.

Foxconn communicated with employees and assured them that salaries and bonuses would be paid “in accordance with company policies.”

Apple, where Foxconn manufactures a range of products, told CNN Business that its employees are in the field at its Zhengzhou facility.

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

In a live broadcast Thursday morning showing workers queuing outside, a worker said that some workers who agreed to leave received the first portion of the payout. to get a Covid test while waiting for the departing buses. Later in the day, long queues of workers boarding the buses were seen on live broadcasts.

But for some, the problem is not over yet. Another worker said live on Thursday that many were unable to get tickets to return home after being taken to the Zhengzhou train station. As he turned his camera to show the large crowd, he said that thousands of workers like him were trapped in the station.

Officials previously announced that Zhengzhou will impose a five-day lockdown in its urban areas, including the train station, from midnight on Friday.

Workers face off against security guards in hazmat suits.

According to social media videos and a witness statement, the protest began Tuesday night with hundreds of marches and slogans chanting, including “Down with Foxconn,” outside worker dormitories on the sprawling Foxconn campus. Videos show workers clashing with security guards and responding to police fired tear gas.

The conflict lasted until Wednesday morning. The situation quickly escalated when large numbers of security forces were deployed to the scene, most of them wearing white protective suits and some with shields and batons. The videos showed columns of police vehicles, some of which were marked “SWAT”, arriving on the campus, which normally houses around 200,000 workers.

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

The worker said some protesters had marched to the main gate of the production facility campus, which is located in an area separate from the workers’ dormitories, in an attempt to disrupt the assembly work.

Other protesters took another step and entered the production compound. According to the worker, they smashed Covid test booths, glass doors and billboards at restaurants in the production area.

He said he was deeply disappointed by Foxconn after working at the Zhengzhou factory for six years and plans to resign. On a base salary of 2,300 yuan per month, she earns between 4,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan a month, including overtime, working 10 hours a day and seven days a week during the epidemic.

“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said. “Not only did it spread Taiwan’s values ​​of democracy and freedom to the mainland, it was assimilated by the Chinese Communist Party and became very cruel and inhuman. I feel very sorry for that.”

Although he was not one of the new recruits, he protested in support of them and added: “If I remain silent about the suffering of others today, who will speak for me tomorrow?”

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