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Foxconn offers workers $1,400 to stop protesting and leave ‘iPhone City’

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The Apple supplier has apologized, claiming that miscommunication on pay was the result of a ‘technical error.’ The offer is equivalent to one or two months of wages.

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Foxconn has offered workers a 10,000 yuan ($1,400) settlement in an attempt to end protests at the facility, encouraging newly recruited staff to quit and subsequently leave its iPhone assembly factory in Zhengzhou, central China. CNN reports that the payout, equivalent to one or two months of wages, comes after violent protests erupted Tuesday over withheld pay and working conditions suffered during a strict covid lockdown.

The Apple manufacturing partner reportedly made the offer Wednesday via a text message sent from its human resources department, requesting that workers “please return to your dormitories,” alongside a vow to honor pay agreements. The company offered 8,000 yuan (around $1,120) to workers who agreed to quit their positions at the factory, and another 2,000 yuan (around $280) after they board buses to depart the facility.

Zhengzhou, also referred to as “iPhone city,” was forced to lock down in October following a covid outbreak at the factory in adherence with China’s strict “zero-covid” policy. When workers started to flee, Foxconn launched a recruitment drive that saw over 100,000 people signing up to fill the vacancies. According to a document outlining salary packages seen by CNN, the new hires were promised a 3,000 yuan (around $420) subsidy if they completed 30 days on the job, with a second 3,000 yuan bonus to be paid after 60 days.

Protest erupted on Tuesday when the workers were informed that these bonus payments would be delayed until next year, with the first subsidy payment to be issued on March 15th, and the second in May. “The new recruits had to work more days to get the bonus they were promised, so they felt cheated,” said one worker to CNN.

Foxconn has since admitted that changes to payment dates were a miscommunication. “Our team has been looking into the matter and discovered a technical error occurred during the onboarding process,” said Foxconn in a statement to Reuters. “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.” Apple — Foxconn’s largest customer — has also weighed in, saying in a statement carried by CNN that the company was “working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.”

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