China locks down Zhengzhou after iPhone plant protest, Foxconn apologises over hiring

Following violent protests at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory, China has ordered a Covid lockdown in the city. Videos broadcast live on the Kuaishou short video platform on Wednesday showed some people describing themselves as Foxconn workers, pulling down barriers and arguing with hazmat-suited authorities.

Residents of Zhengzhou’s city center need a negative Covid test and permission from local authorities to leave the area, and are advised not to leave their homes “unless necessary”, the local government said.

Meanwhile, Foxconn said on Thursday a “technical error” occurred while hiring new employees at the iPhone factory hit by Covid and apologised to workers after it was rocked by fresh labor unrest. Several reports also suggest that it has promised to pay each newly-hired worker 10,000 yuan (US$1,400) to leave the campus immediately in an attempt to quell the protests. The offer was made on Wednesday and the report was published by Chinese online media outlet Cailianshe.

The notice says that all newly-hired employees will be given 8,000 yuan if they resign immediately and will receive an additional 2,000 upon boarding a bus out of the facility.

“Some employees are still concerned about the coronavirus and hope to quit and return home, and the company deeply understands the concerns,” according to the notice.

Rare scenes of dissent showed men smashing surveillance cameras and windows sparked by claims of overdue pay and frustration over severe COVID-19 restrictions. Workers said on videos circulated on social media that they had come to know that Foxconn intended to delay bonus payments. Some workers also complained that they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for COVID.

“Our team has been looking into the matter and discovered a technical error occurred during the onboarding process,” Foxconn said in a statement.

We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual pay is the same as agreed and the official recruitment posters.

(With input from agencies)

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