More than 20,000 new hires have left Apple supplier Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant in China

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TAIPEI – More than 20,000 employees, most of them new hires not yet working on the production line, have left Apple supplier Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant in China, a Foxconn source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The person said the departure was set to complicate the company’s previous target to resume full production by the end of November, following worker unrest that rocked production at the world’s largest iPhone factory.

The factory has been rocked by worker unrest and discontent since October.

The latest unrest exposed communication problems and a mistrust of Foxconn management among some staff, with some workers accusing the company of not acting effectively to curb the spread of Covid-19 and then misleading them over wages.

On Thursday, Foxconn said a technical error occurred when hiring new recruits at Zhengzhou and apologised to workers after the company was rocked by fresh labour unrest.

Men smashed surveillance cameras and clashed with security personnel, as hundreds of workers protested at the Zhengzhou plant on Wednesday.

Workers said on videos circulated on social media that they were informed that Foxconn intended to delay bonus payments. Some workers also complained they were forced to share dormitories with colleagues who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Foxconn’s apology on Thursday was an about-face from a day earlier when it said it had fulfilled its payment contracts.

The largest protests had died down by Thursday, and the company was communicating with employees engaged in smaller protests.

Foxconn said it would respect the wishes of new hires who wanted to resign and leave the factory campus, and would offer them care subsidies.

The Foxconn source said the subsidies amounted to 10,000 yuan (S$1,923) per worker. REUTERS

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