A day after its iPhone plant in China was rocked by irate protesters, Apple supplier Foxconn has apologized for a “technical issue” in its payment processes.
Videos have surfaced of hundreds of employees protesting against Covid restrictions and unpaid wages at the world’s largest iPhone manufacturing in Zhengzhou.
Those watching the protests livestreamed claims that police beat up employees.
According to a Foxconn employee who spoke with the BBC, the issue has since been fixed.
The facility was shut down last month because to an increase in Covid cases, which led some employees to flee and go home. The business then hired new personnel by promising them large bonuses.
However, one employee claimed that these contracts were altered so they “could not get the subsidies promised” and added that they were kept in isolation without meals.
The salary of new hires was “the same as agreed [in the] official recruitment posters,” Foxconn said in a statement on Thursday, adding that a “technical issue happened during the onboarding process.”
The company said that it was in frequent contact with the impacted workers over salary and bonuses and that it was making every effort “to actively address the concerns and legitimate demands of employees.”
The BBC was also informed on Thursday by a worker that he had got 8,000 yuan ($1,120; £926) and was scheduled to get a further 2,000 yuan. There were no longer any demonstrators, he said, and he and his coworkers will go back to the Foxconn facility.
— Suvam Bagui (@SuvamBagui) November 23, 2022
More than 200,000 people work at the Zhengzhou facility, which produces Apple products like the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
Separately, on Thursday, authorities imposed a lockdown on the city, telling its more than six million residents they would not be allowed to leave without a positive Covid test.
It happened at a time when China had a wave of outbreaks that hit numerous important cities, including Beijing and Guangzhou, and the country saw its largest daily number of Covid cases since the pandemic started.
As China’s economic development slows, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged China to reevaluate its zero-COvid strategy.
The gross domestic product (GDP) of the second-largest economy in the world decreased by 2.6% from the previous quarter in the three months ending in June.
“Although the zero-Covid strategy has become nimbler over time, the combination of more contagious Covid variants and persistent gaps in vaccinations have led to the need for more frequent lockdowns, weighing on consumption and private investment, including in housing,” the IMF said.
Beijing was also urged by the international financial organization to boost vaccination rates and provide additional support for its struggling real estate market.
Some analysts, however, think that China will not change its policies despite the IMF’s advice.
“Given that China is unlikely to be going to the IMF for help, it doesn’t really matter whether they pay attention to this statement or not,” Simon Baptist, global chief economist of The Economist Intelligence Unit, told the reporters.