More than 20,000 workers, most of them new hires who had not yet worked 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 would complicate the company’s previous goal of resuming full production by the end of November, after worker unrest rocked production at the world’s largest iPhone factory.
Foxconn declined to comment.
The workers’ departure comes after the Taiwanese company on Thursday offered 10,000 yuan ($1,396) to workers willing to resign and leave the chaos-stricken factory.
It had apologized for committing a pay-related “technical error” in hiring new recruits, which employees say was a factor leading to protests with clashes with security personnel.
Videos posted to Chinese social media on Friday showed crowds and long lines of luggage-laden workers queuing for buses. “It’s time to go home,” said one of the posters.
The labor unrest at the Zhengzhou plant, which began on Wednesday, marked rare scenes of open dissent in China, which workers say were fueled by claims of back wages and frustration over tight COVID-19 restrictions.
A second Foxconn source familiar with the matter said some new hires had left campus, but did not elaborate on how many. The person said the departure had no impact on current production, as the new staff still had to undergo training before being able to work online.
The turmoil comes as China is recording a record number of COVID-19 infections and grappling with increasing lockdowns that have led to frustration among citizens across the country. But it has also revealed communication problems and mistrust of Foxconn management among some employees.
Foxconn launched a hiring campaign earlier this month promising bonuses and higher salaries after it was forced to take measures in October to contain the spread of COVID-19. The curbs forced the company to isolate many workers and the conditions in the factory prompted some to flee.
($1 = 7.1616 Chinese Yuan Renminbi)
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