Apple observers onsite in Zhengzhou as Foxconn pays off angry workers

Foxconn blames "technical error" on the broken promises that triggered riots at the world's largest iPhone factory.

From "Foxconn offers $1,400 payout to quell protests at China iPhone plant" posted Thursday by the Financial Times:

The payout, intended to cover money owed to new workers for quarantining, transport to the factory and hours worked, was formally issued in notices to workers. Those who take the deal are set to receive Rmb8,000 when they submit their resignation and the remaining Rmb2,000 after boarding buses home. “

We’re happy,” said one worker who chose to take the deal and leave due to concerns about a Covid-19 outbreak at the plant and uncertainty around the bonuses...

Apple said it had team members on the ground at the iPhone plant. “We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed,” the company said.

“Foxconn promised big money — up to Rmb15,000 a month — to quickly recruit thousands of new workers, but it doesn’t seem to have materialized. That is why workers were so disappointed,” said Jenny Chan, a China labour expert at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “The company is known for claiming to provide high wages then breaking their promises,” she said. Foxconn on Wednesday said it always fulfilled its obligations.

My take: The Chinese know how to sweep up a mess. Images from violent clashes at the factory complex have largely disappeared from Chinese social media.

See also: Riots, tear gas, injuries at Foxconn's largest iPhone plant (video)


  1. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Here’s the headline: “Apple’s main supplier lied to workers resulting in a tear gas laden riot while Tim Cook sat silently by letting all of this happen.”

    Who will be the first to publish this sham headline? Debbie Wu? Or Mark Gurman?

    November 24, 2022
    • David Drinkwater said:
      This is slightly excessive hyperbole, because the actual title offered is:

      “Apple observers onsite in Zhengzhou as Foxconn pays off angry workers”

      Which means that Apple (and therefore by metonomy, Tim Cook) is actually doing something. They actually put Apple people on the ground (in a potentially dangerous situation) to observe.

      Apple pays Foxconn to build iPhones. Foxconn pays and is responsible for its own employees well-being. It is not formally Apple’s responsibility to do Foxconn’s job.

      You can call Apple’s presence in Zhengzhou virtue-signaling if you’d like, but it is a part of Apple’s stated core values: to be responsible for it’s supply chain top to bottom. And there Apple is, doing just that.

      But I assume that I am just preaching to the choir here.

      November 25, 2022
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    I have multiple observations to make. Foxconn seems to periodically defraud, or at least delude on their promises to workers from what I have observed historically. This is not the first time these accusations have surfaced. It leaves me to wonder how much of this worker anguish is related to concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak at the plant as opposed to worker concerns over broken promises and feelings of betrayal by Foxconn.

    It speaks volumes when Apple has to issue a public statement saying, “…. We (Apple) are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed.” Apple has been here before with Foxconn. Jenny Chan says explicitly, that workers disappointment is due to Foxconn’s deceit and betrayal relative to promised big money, not Covid outbreak. Foxconn had an obligation to these workers and failed to deliver on that obligation.

    I believe one can say reasonably that these riots were “avoidable.” These riots were not due to the Covid outbreak, but were due to the way Foxconn once again poorly responded to workers’ concerns.

    “…. My take: The Chinese know how to sweep up a mess. Images from violent clashes at the factory complex have largely disappeared from Chinese social media.” This will not happen in India. This is a huge concern of mine. Let me explain.

    Continue below…..

    November 24, 2022
  3. Jerry Doyle said:

    Chinese workers operate under an authoritarian government regime. The Chinese worker’s behavioral tolerance is extremely high compare with what Apple will encounter among Indian workers in a democracy where employees will not hesitate to denote their work dissatisfactions, or act out their feelings of displeasure, impatience, irritation or feelings of Employer betrayal. Talk about demonstrations and riots! Indian workers will quickly ventilate their frustrations if necessary, once Apple moves more and more of its operations to that full nation democracy. In India, Foxconn’s dirty laundry quickly will become exposed and on international display for the world to see with Apple caught in the center of it all. Apple needs to address definitively, this situation with Foxconn that keeps evolving, and not continue to walk away assuming Foxconn will do so.

    We had this same situation previously under Foxconn where Indian workers went on a violent rampage at an iPhone factory in India over allegations of unpaid wages and exploitation. I remember videos of the violence showing glass panels being smashed and cars being flipped on their sides. It all gravitates back to how Foxconn “betrays” its workers.

    Foxconn is not going to establish a viable structure for worker rights. Apple needs to do it for Foxconn. Workers need some form of organizational structure of ongoing interaction with Foxconn management and with Apple’s (ongoing) involvement to ensure worker complaints are genuine and that Foxconn addresses workers complaints.

    Foxconn is not going to get its’ employee house in order. Considering the size of Apple’s contractual relationship with Foxconn, Apple can influence Foxconn to establish Labor-management committees to address “workers’ rights issues,” with Apple as the deciding administrative official when the parties fail to do so. Such a Labor-management arrangement would ameliorate matters among workers who believe they need a voice and such an arrangement would diffuse employee riots from evolving.

    Apple usually takes the lead in worker rights and in promoting social values protecting workers. Apple should do so in helping its contractual workforce to organize for continued improved working conditions.

    November 24, 2022

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