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Covid-19: Over 20,000 Apple employees quit China’s Foxconn factory

Covid-19: Over 20,000 Apple employees quit China’s Foxconn factory

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Virendra Pandit

 

New Delhi: Of the 200,000-odd employees at the world’s largest Apple factory in China, nearly 20,000 have left their job in the wake of a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 and issues related to payment arrears, the media reported on Friday.

The plant recently witnessed hundreds of employees suddenly fleeing the premises, by even crossing fencing and boundary walls, after a fresh outbreak of Covid-19. In another incident, violence broke out after many of them demanded pay arrears as they also clashed with the police this week.

Most of those who quit their jobs were new recruits not yet working on the production line. In a wave of departures, they left Apple supplier Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant in China in a piquant situation amid an advancing recession in the world’s second-largest economy.

Reports said the staff exodus would complicate the company’s previous target of resuming full production by the end of November, following workers’ unrest that rocked production at the world’s largest iPhone factory.

As of now, Foxconn might have to make do only with 30 percent of exports as production is severely affected.

The workers’ exodus came after the Taiwanese firm offered on Thursday 10,000 yuan (USD 1,396) to employees who wanted to resign and leave the chaos-hit plant.

It had apologized for committing a pay-related ‘technical error’ when hiring new recruits, a factor that triggered protests involving their clashes with security personnel.

Videos posted on Chinese social media on Friday showed crowds and long lines of luggage-carrying workers queuing for buses.

The labor unrest at the Zhengzhou plant that began on Wednesday marked rare scenes of open dissent in China, which workers say was fuelled by claims of overdue pay and frustration over severe restrictions in the execution of the ongoing Zero Covid policy.

The fresh departures had no impact on current production, as the new staff still needed to take training courses before working online, reports said.

The unrest came when China is logging record numbers of Covid-19 infections and grappling with more and more lockdowns that have fuelled frustration among citizens across the country. But it has also exposed communication problems and mistrust of Foxconn management among some staff.

Foxconn launched a hiring drive earlier this month promising bonuses and higher salaries after it had to enact measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in October. The stringent curbs forced the company to isolate many employees and the plant’s conditions prompted several to flee.

 

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