Foxconn China Launches Mass Recruiting Drive After iPhone Workers Run Away

ZHENGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 06: Staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Foxconn, the Taiwanese-owned company whose plant in Zhengzhou, China, is the world’s largest assembler of Apple iPhones, is frantically attempting to replace thousands of workers who climbed over fences and embarked upon 30-mile hikes to escape from a coronavirus lockdown.

Even the ostensibly high wages and retention bonuses offered to replenish the factory workforce are a pittance by outside standards, illuminating the plight of Chinese migrant workers treated like indentured servants.

The Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou drew worldwide media attention last week after social media videos showed a stream of workers sneaking out of the plant, clambering over its security fences, and heading for their distant home villages on foot. The factory was operating under a “closed loop” coronavirus lockdown, which forces workers to live on the premises.

Fleeing employees told reporters that conditions inside the plant were unsanitary, supplies of food and medicine were insufficient, and healthy workers feared catching Chinese coronavirus from the infected colleagues they were forced to bunk with. 

Apple warned on Sunday that lockdowns and labor shortages at the Zhengzhou plant have “temporarily impacted” iPhone shipments. Customers were told to expect “longer wait times to receive their new products.”

On Monday, the Foxconn unit that handles iPhone assembly posted an employment notice offering a 500 yuan “care and love” subsidy for employees who agree to return to work at the Zhengzhou plant. The bonus was presented as a “pre-hiring” offer, since the Airport Economic Zone where the plant is located will not emerge from a weeklong coronavirus lockdown until Wednesday. 

Foxconn offered to provide transportation to bring workers back into the “closed loop” work environment at the factory. Those who did not flee the plant have been offered daily bonuses of up to 400 yuan. Hourly pay at the facility has been raised to 30 yuan.

A “source close to the matter” told China’s state-run Global Times on Monday that Foxconn is hoping for “full-capacity resumption in late November,” with support from “the government and clients.” 

“In response to demand from the Zhengzhou plant along with other social concerns, the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone conducted an in-depth communication with Foxconn and implemented 15 measures covering five aspects from livelihoods to epidemic prevention to provide comprehensive services and protection for company workers and ensure employees’ rights and interests,” the Global Times added.

500 yuan, the “care and love pre-hiring bonus” offered to lure migrant workers back to the hellish “closed loop system” they climbed over fences to escape, works out to about $70 U.S. The maximum daily bonus granted to those who did not flee is about $55. The new and improved hourly pay for working at the plant is $4.14.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.