iPhone maker Foxconn to pay workers $1,400 to quit and flee COVID lockdown
One of Apple’s major iPhone suppliers is paying workers to quit and go home as it struggles to operate amid worker unrest and COVID lockdowns.
In a staff notice, Foxconn said it would offer newly hired workers at its Zhengzhou plant an 8,000 yuan ($1,100) bonus to quit immediately and an additional 2,000 yuan ($300) if they moved up. a bus back to their hometown, reports the South China Morning Post. The bonus is more than a month’s pay for Foxconn workers, according to Bloomberg.
“Some employees are still concerned about the coronavirus and hope to resign and return home,” Foxconn wrote in its advisory, saying it “deeply understands the concerns” of its workers.
Foxconn, which is officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industrydid not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The notice came hours after reports of violent demonstrations at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, which employs up to 300,000 people. Workers left their dormitories early Wednesday morning, angry over unpaid wages and concerned about the spread of COVID. Workers clashed with security personnel and riot police had to restore order.
Foxconn confirmed protests had taken place in a report Wednesday and denied that any COVID-positive workers were staying in its dorms.
Zhengzhou officials announced on Wednesday that the city’s urban areas would be sent to confinement from Friday to November 29. The city, sometimes called “iPhone City” because of its key position in Apple’s supply chain, reported nearly 1,000 cases on Wednesday.
Foxconn adopted COVID checks end of October, including forcing workers to eat in their dormitories, to quell a growing epidemic. Shortly after Foxconn imposed these controls, videos of workers appeared on Chinese social media run away from the factoryjump fences and hitchhike on passing vehicles.
The worker exodus has prompted Foxconn to turn to the government for help. Workers who fled the Foxconn factory told the South China Morning Post that local village officials had called them on behalf of the company, encouraging them to return to work.
Apple warned earlier this month that iPhone production would be weaker than expected heading into the holiday season due to disruptions at its factories. State media reported that Foxconn would need as many 100,000 new workers to restore full operations.
China is battling COVID outbreaks across the country as cases peak this year, exceeding the previous record set in April during Shanghai’s punitive two-month lockdown. The country reported 29,754 cases on Wednesday.
Widespread outbreaks are a new test of China’s “COVID-zero” policy, which uses mass testing and lockdowns to completely suppress outbreaks. The harsh measures are blamed for weighing on China’s economy, with retail sales and factory activity falling over the past month. Nomura economists estimate that the areas responsible for a fifth of China’s GDP are now in some form of containment.
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