Apple supplier Foxconn pays new employees $1,400 to quit immediately if China’s ‘iPhone city’ goes into COVID lockdown

One of Apple’s major iPhone suppliers is paying employees to quit and go home as the company struggles to work amid employee unrest and COVID lockdowns.

In an employee statement, Foxconn said it would offer newly hired workers at its Zhengzhou factory an 8,000 yuan ($1,100) bonus for immediate resignation and an additional 2,000 yuan ($300) if they were taken on a bus back to their hometowns. steps, reports the South China Morning Mail. The bonus is more than a month’s salary, according to Foxconn Bloomberg.

“Some employees are still concerned about the coronavirus and hope to quit and return home,” Foxconn wrote in its post, saying it “deeply understands the concerns of its employees.”

Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news came hours after reports of violent protests at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, which employs as many as 300,000 people. Workers left their dormitories early Wednesday morning, angry about unpaid wages and concerned about the spread of COVID. Workers clashed with security personnel and riot police had to restore order.

Foxconn confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that protests were taking place and denied that COVID-positive workers were staying in its dorms.

COVID lockdowns

Zhengzhou officials announced on Wednesday that the city’s urban areas would go into lockdown from Friday through November 29. The city, dubbed “iPhone City” because of its key position in Apple’s supply chain, reported nearly 1,000 cases on Wednesday.

Foxconn implemented COVID controls in late October, including forcing workers to eat in their dorms, to quell a growing outbreak. Shortly after Foxconn imposed these controls, videos emerged on Chinese social media of workers fleeing the factory, jumping fences and piggybacking on passing vehicles.

The exodus of workers prompted Foxconn to turn to the government for help. Workers fleeing Foxconn’s factory told South China Morning Mail that local village officials called them on behalf of the company to encourage them to return to work.

Apple warned earlier this month that iPhone production would be lower than expected during the holiday season due to disruptions at its factories. State media reported that Foxconn would need as many as 100,000 new employees to restore full operations.

China is battling COVID outbreaks across the country as cases rise to their highest point this year, surpassing the previous record set in April during Shanghai’s punishing two-month lockdown. The country reported 29,754 cases on Wednesday.

The widespread outbreaks are another test of China’s “COVID Zero” policy, which uses mass testing and lockdowns to completely suppress outbreaks. These harsh measures have dragged the Chinese economy down, with both retail sales and factory activity falling over the past month. Nomura economists estimate that areas responsible for one-fifth of China’s GDP are now under lockdown in one way or another.

This story was originally on Fortune.com

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