The staff departures come amid concerns over Apple’s ability to deliver products for the busy holiday season.
More than 20,000 workers at Apple supplier Foxconn’s massive Chinese factory, mostly new hires not yet working on production lines, have left, a source close to Foxconn told Reuters news agency on Friday. folder.
Layoffs from the world’s largest iPhone factory deal another blow to the Taiwanese company which is grappling with strict COVID-19 restrictions that have fueled worker discontent and disrupted production ahead of Christmas and the holidays January Lunar New Year.
Concerns are growing over Apple’s ability to deliver products for the busy holiday season as labor unrest persists at the Zhengzhou plant, which produces the US company’s popular iPhone 14 models.
The departures will complicate Foxconn’s goal of resuming full production by the end of November after sometimes violent unrest, the source said.
Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, declined to comment. Apple, which said Thursday it has staff at the factory, declined to comment on Friday.
In a rare case of open dissent in China, employees complained about sharing dormitories with colleagues who tested positive for COVID. They claim they were misled about compensation from the factory which accounts for 70% of global iPhone shipments.
Foxconn on Thursday offered 10,000 yuan ($1,400) to protesting recruits who agreed to quit and leave the factory.
The company has apologized for a “technical error” related to pay during hiring, which workers say was a factor that led to protests involving clashes with security personnel.
Videos posted Friday on Chinese social media showed crowds and long lines of luggage-laden workers queuing for buses. “It’s time to go home,” one person said.
Another Foxconn source familiar with the matter said some new recruits had left campus but did not specify how many. This person said the departures had no effect on current production, as new staff still had to take training courses before working online.
“The incident has a large impact on our public image but little on our (current) capacity. Our current capacity is not affected,” the source said.
“Companies can’t do much about pandemic prevention… It’s been a problem for some time. This is a problem everyone is dealing with,” the person said, pointing to other worker unrest sparked by rigid COVID restrictions, including upheaval at another Apple supplier, Quanta, in May.
The unrest at the Foxconn factory comes as China records a record number of COVID infections and grapples with growing lockdowns that have heightened frustration among citizens across the country. It also revealed miscommunication and distrust of Foxconn management among some staff.
Foxconn launched a hiring campaign this month, promising bonuses and higher wages after having to enact COVID restrictions in October. The restrictions have forced the company to isolate many employees, prompting many to flee.