Hon Hai apologizes over 'technical error' after riot in Zhengzhou

11/24/2022 11:37 PM
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Photo courtesy of Reuters
Photo courtesy of Reuters

Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Thursday apologized for what it called a "technical error" in announcing the sums of bonuses promised to newly recruited employees, which on Tuesday triggered large-scale violent protests at its plant in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

According to information shared on social media by workers at Hon Hai's Zhengzhou plant, the company promised new workers who chose to stay in their jobs bonuses for their first two months of work there.

According to the bonus rules, wages and bonuses paid for the first month of work would total about 13,600 yuan as long as workers did not leave and about 16,600 yuan for working there a second month.

Those who chose to leave after working for one month were to receive wages and subsidies totaling about 8,600-10,600 depending on the distance of their trip back home and whether they will stay in a quarantine hotel or be put in a public quarantine facility after reaching their destination, the information shows.

However, according to reports by Chinese news outlets, the iPhone ODM, known internationally as Foxconn, allegedly unilaterally changed the terms of its contract with the new hires to say they must stay in their posts until at least March 2023 or forfeit all bonuses, meaning they would have to work through the Lunar New Year holiday.

The alleged rule change came amid fears the city would again enforce movement restrictions after authorities earlier in November announced they would gradually ease restrictions. Those fears were later confirmed after the local government's official broadcasting platform confirmed it would on Friday reinstate movement restrictions.

Waves of violent protests broke out from late Tuesday through Wednesday after Foxconn's employees learned about the rule change, which resulted in protesters numbered in the thousands clashing with phalanxes of police officers, according to videos shared on social media.

Angry employees who planned on leaving demanded they be paid 10,000 yuan, which they eventually were after riots escalated Wednesday evening when it was found Foxconn had only paid them 3,000 yuan despite agreeing to their demand, according to messages on social media.

The incessant protests apparently led Foxconn to send cell phone messages to its employees promising to wire 10,000 yuan to their accounts after they scan a QR code and put in their personal information.

The protests were largely quelled Thursday after employees received the promised payment, according to social media messages.

Foxconn on Thursday apologized for a "technical error" that caused it to pass on incorrect information regarding the subsidies to new employees.

The company would make sure the actual pay received by workers is the same as shown on its recruitment posters and actively communicate with employees to resolve any concerns and meet reasonable demands, Foxconn said in a statement.

The company fully respects the individual wishes of employees wanting to leave their jobs and return home and will provide them with corresponding care subsidies, while continuing to provide employees who choose to stay with comprehensive support, it said

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that the incident highlights the worsening and increasingly volatile investment conditions in China due to Beijing's zero-COVID policy, which is negatively affecting the willingness of Taiwanese and foreign investors to invest in China.

MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said the council will continue to monitor the situation in Zhengzhou and provide any necessary assistance.

(By Sean Lin and Lu Chia-jung)

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