Foxconn apologizes after workers riot at world’s largest iPhone factory

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Apple supplier Foxconn on Thursday apologized for the chaos at its Zhengzhou plant — the world’s largest iPhone factory — and offered $1,400 in compensation to disgruntled workers who decided to leave the plant. a day after violent clashes erupted between factory workers and security guards over late payments and poor living conditions caused by China’s zero-Covid policy.

Important facts

According to Reuters, Foxconn blamed the chaos on a “technical error” in the hiring process for new employees, which sparked concerns among employees that they would not receive a bonus payment promised to them at the time of hiring.

Foxconn did not elaborate on the nature of the error, but has denied reports of a Covid-19 outbreak at its workers’ dormitories, calling them “manifestly untrue”.

All new hires were promised a bonus and higher wages to encourage workers to return to the plant after several fled the site in October over Covid concerns and poor living conditions.

However, several new recruits began protesting after finding out they would only receive those special bonuses if they stayed at the factory until March, Bloomberg reported.

To quell workers’ anger, Foxconn has offered 10,000 yen (US$1,400) in compensation to new employees who choose to leave the plant, saying they would respect their wishes.

Due to China’s restrictive zero-Covid policy, workers at the factory are forced to live on-site in a closed bubble – isolated in dormitories, where they face food shortages and lack of access to medicines, among other things.

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The massive so-called “iPhone City” manufacturing campus, home to more than 200,000 people, erupted in protests on Wednesday, prompting officials in Zhengzhou to issue lockdown orders in parts of the city deemed “high risk”. People in those areas have been ordered to stay home, while the rest of the city’s residents have been told to leave only for essential chores. This new lockdown is unlikely to have a major impact on the iPhone factory itself, as it has already been designated a “high risk zone” and workers are not allowed to leave the large campus.

What to look out for

While Apple has not issued a statement on the impact of Wednesday’s clashes, earlier this month the company warned of a delay in deliveries of its flagship iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max phones due to “Covid-19 restrictions” in Zhengzhou. On the Apple website, the expected delivery time for an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max is six weeks from Thursday.

Further reading

Apple supplier Foxconn apologizes for hiring mistakes at COVID-hit China plant (Reuters)

Foxconn offers employees $1,400 to leave after iPhone City violence (Bloomberg)

Apple shares tumble in premarket amid Covid protests at China’s biggest iPhone factory (Forbes)

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