Foxconn has offered workers a 10,000 yuan ($1,400) settlement in an effort to end protests at the facility, encouraging newly hired staff to quit and then leave the iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou, central China. CNN reports that the payout, equivalent to one or two months’ pay, comes after violent protests broke out on Tuesday over withheld wages and working conditions during a strict covid lockdown.
Apple’s manufacturing partner reportedly made the offer via a text message from its human resources department Wednesday, asking employees to “return to your dorms,” alongside a vow to honor wage agreements. The company offered 8,000 yuan (about $1,120) to workers who agreed to quit their jobs at the plant, and another 2,000 yuan (about $280) after they boarded buses to leave the facility.
Dubbed the “iPhone City,” Zhengzhou was forced to shut down in October following a covid outbreak at the factory, in line with China’s strict “zero-covid” policy. When workers began to flee, Foxconn launched a recruiting drive that saw more than 100,000 people apply to fill the vacancies. According to a document with salary packages seen by CNNnew hires were promised a grant of 3,000 yuan (about $420) if they worked 30 days, with a second bonus of 3,000 yuan to be paid after 60 days.
Protests erupted on Tuesday when workers were told these bonus payments would be delayed until next year, with the first subsidy payment due March 15 and the second in May. “The new recruits had to work more days to get the promised bonus, so they felt cheated,” one employee told CNN.
Foxconn has since admitted that changes to payment dates were a miscommunication. “Our team investigated the matter and found that a technical error occurred during the onboarding process,” Foxconn said in a statement to Reuters. “We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual wage is the same as agreed and the official recruitment posters.” Apple – Foxconn’s largest customer – also weighed in in a statement that was handed over CNN that the company “worked closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.”