5 things: Foxconn workers protest in China 2:38
Foxconn has offered to pay newly hired workers 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to resign and leave the world's largest iPhone assembly factory, in a bid to quell protests in which hundreds of people clashed. with security forces at the compound in central China.
The Apple supplier made the offer on Wednesday following dramatic scenes of violent protests at its campus in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, in a text message sent from its human resources department to workers.
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In the message, seen by CNN, the company urged workers to "return to their dormitories" on campus.
He also promised to pay them 8,000 yuan if they agreed to quit Foxconn, and another 2,000 yuan after they boarded buses to leave the sprawling site entirely.
The protest erupted Tuesday night over the terms of the new employees' pay packages and covid-related concerns about their living conditions.
The scenes turned increasingly violent Wednesday as workers clashed with a large number of security forces, including SWAT team officers.
A group of security officers dressed in hazmat suits kicked and punched a worker who was lying on the ground.
Videos circulating on social media showed groups of law enforcement officers dressed in hazmat suits kicking and beating protesters with batons and metal bars.
Some workers were seen tearing down fences, throwing bottles and barriers at officers, and vandalizing and overturning police vehicles.
The protest largely subsided around 10 p.m. Wednesday when workers returned to their dormitories, having received Foxconn's offer of pay and fearing a harsher crackdown from authorities, a witness told CNN.
The Zhengzhou plant was hit by a covid outbreak in October, forcing it to close and prompting a mass exodus of workers fleeing the outbreak.
Foxconn then launched a massive recruitment drive, with more than 100,000 people signing up to fill the advertised positions, Chinese state media reported.
According to a document setting out the new hires' salary package seen by CNN, workers were promised a 3,000 yuan bonus after 30 days on the job, with another 3,000 yuan to be paid after a total of 60 days.
However, according to a worker, after arriving at the plant, Foxconn told the new recruits that they would only receive the first bonus on March 15 and the second payment in May, meaning they must work during the New Year holidays. Lunar, starting in January 2023, to get the first of the bonus payments.
"The new recruits had to work more days to receive the bonus they were promised, so they felt cheated," the worker told CNN.
In a statement on Thursday, Foxconn said it fully understood the concerns of new recruits about "potential changes to the subsidy policy," which it blamed on "a technical error (that) occurred during the onboarding process."
"We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual payment is the same as agreed," he said.
Foxconn would communicate with employees and assure them that salaries and bonuses would be paid "in accordance with company policies," he said.
Apple, for which Foxconn makes a range of products, told CNN Business that its employees were at the Zhengzhou facility.
Workers throw parts of the metal barriers they have torn down at the police.
“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees' concerns are addressed,” it said in a statement.
On Thursday morning, some workers who agreed to leave received the first part of their pay, one worker said in a livestream, which showed workers lining up outdoors for Covid tests as they waited for buses to leave. .
Later that day, live feeds showed long lines of workers boarding the buses.
But for some, the problem is far from over.
After being driven to the Zhengzhou railway station, many were unable to get a ticket back home, another worker said in a live broadcast on Thursday afternoon.
Like him, thousands of workers were trapped in the station, he said, turning his camera to show the huge crowds.
Zhengzhou is set to impose a five-day lockdown on its urban districts, which include the railway station, starting at midnight on Friday, authorities announced earlier.
The protest began in front of worker dormitories on Foxconn's sprawling campus Tuesday night, with hundreds of people marching and chanting slogans including "Down with Foxconn," according to social media videos and an eyewitness account.
Videos showed workers clashing with security guards and fighting tear gas fired by police.
The standoff lasted until Wednesday morning.
The situation quickly escalated when a large number of security forces were deployed to the scene, most wearing white hazmat suits and some carrying shields and batons.
The videos showed columns of police vehicles, some marked with the "SWAT" logo, arriving at the campus, which normally houses about 200,000 workers.
More workers joined the protest after watching live streams on video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin, China's version of TikTok, the worker told CNN.
Many live broadcasts were cut or censored.
Online searches for "Foxconn" in Chinese have been restricted.
Workers are confronted by security agents dressed in hazardous materials.
Some protesters marched towards the main entrance of the production plant compound, which is in a separate area from the workers' dormitories, in an attempt to block assembly work, the worker said.
Other protesters went a step further by storming the production complex.
They smashed covid testing booths, glass doors and advertising signs at restaurants in the production area, according to the worker.
Having worked at the Zhengzhou plant for six years, he said he was now deeply disappointed in Foxconn and planned to resign.
With a base monthly salary of 2,300 yuan, he has been earning between 4,000 and 5,000 yuan per month, including overtime pay, working 10 hours a day, seven days a week during the pandemic.
“Foxconn is a Taiwanese company,” he said.
“Not only did it not spread Taiwan's values of democracy and freedom to the mainland, but it was assimilated into the Chinese Communist Party and became so cruel and inhumane.
I feel very sad about that."
Although he was not one of the new recruits, he protested with them in support, adding, “If today I keep quiet about the suffering of others, who will speak for me tomorrow?”