Foxconn has offered to pay new workers 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to leave the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant in central China in an effort to quell protests that have sparked clashes with hundreds of security forces.
The Apple supplier made the offer Wednesday in a text message from its human resources department to workers following violent protests at its campus in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province.
In a statement seen by CNN, the company urged workers 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 boarded the buses to leave the sprawling area entirely.
The protest on Tuesday night was over the terms of new hires’ pay packages and Covid-19. care about their living conditions. Demonstrations escalated on Wednesday, with large numbers of workers clashing security forces, including SWAT team officers.
Videos circulating on social media showed groups of riot police kicking and beating protesters with batons and iron rods. Some workers were seen breaking down barriers, throwing bottles and barriers at officers and smashing and overturning police cars.
Around 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, workers accepted Foxconn’s payment offer and returned to their dormitories, fearing a crackdown by authorities, the protest was largely reported by CNN.
The Zhengzhou factory suffered a Covid outbreak in October, forcing it to close and causing workers to flee the outbreak. Foxconn later More than 100,000 people have signed up to fill advertised positions, launching a massive recruitment drive, Chinese state media reported.
Workers were promised a bonus of 3,000 yuan after 30 days on the job, with another 3,000 yuan paid after a total of 60 days, according to a document outlining the pay package for new hires seen by CNN.
However, one worker said that upon arriving at the factory, the new hires were told that Foxconn would receive their first bonus on March 15 and the second promotion only in May, meaning they would have to work until the Lunar New Year holiday. to receive the first bonus payments starting in January 2023.
“The new hires had to work more days to get the promised bonus, so they felt cheated,” the worker told CNN.
In a statement on Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understood the concerns of new hires about “possible changes in subsidy policy”, which it blamed on “a technical error during the onboarding process”.
“We apologize for the input error in the computer system and ensure that the actual salary is as agreed,” it said.
Foxconn was contacting employees and telling them that wages and bonuses would be paid “according to company policy.”
Foxconn, which makes a number of Apple products, told CNN Business that its employees were at the Zhengzhou facility.
“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to address the concerns of their employees,” the statement said.
Some of the workers who agreed to leave early Thursday received the first part of their payments, the worker said on live television, which showed workers lining up outside. taking Covid tests while they wait for buses. In the evening, live broadcasts showed long queues of workers boarding buses.
But for some, the trouble is not over. After being taken to Zhengzhou train station, many were unable to get tickets home, another worker said on live TV on Thursday afternoon. Like him, thousands of workers were stuck at the station, he said, turning his camera to show the crowd.
Zhengzhou will impose a five-day lockdown in its urban areas, including the railway station, starting at midnight on Friday, authorities said earlier.
The protest began late Tuesday night in front of workers’ dormitories at the sprawling Foxconn campus, with hundreds of people marching and chanting “Hate Foxconn,” according to social media videos and witness accounts. Videos show workers clashing with security forces and police fighting back with tear gas.
The standoff lasted until Wednesday morning. As the situation quickly escalated, a large number of security forces, many in white hazmat suits and some with shields and batons, were deployed to the scene. The videos showed convoys of police cars, some marked “SWAT,” on the campus, which is normally home to about 200,000 workers.
More workers joined the protest after watching the live stream on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, a worker told CNN. Many live broadcasts were suspended or censored. Online searches for “Foxconn” in Chinese have been limited.
Some of the protesters went from the workers’ dormitory to the main gate of the manufacturing complex, located in a separate area, in an attempt to block the assembly work, the worker said.
Other protesters took the next step to enter the factory. According to the worker, they destroyed the Covid testing booths, glass doors and billboards in the restaurants in the production area.
Having worked at the Zhengzhou factory for six years, he now says he is deeply disillusioned by Foxconn and plans to leave. With a basic salary of 2,300 yuan, he worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the pandemic, earning between 4,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan a month, including overtime.
“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said. “Not only has Taiwan not spread the values of democracy and freedom to the mainland, it has been assimilated by the Chinese Communist Party and has become so cruel and inhumane.” I am very sad about this.”
Although he was not among the new arrivals, he supported them and expressed his protest: “If today I am silent about the suffering of others, who will speak for me tomorrow?”, he added.