Foxconn, the largest contract assembler of smartphones for Apple and other global brands, apologized for their company’s wage discrepancies after violent protests broke out in Zhengzhou, China.
Thousands of workers gathered at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory on Tuesday to protest poor pay and unsanitary working conditions at Foxconn’s facility.
The company struggled to complete orders for the iPhone 14 as thousands of workers previously left last month due to complaints about unsafe working conditions.
According to protesters, the company unlawfully changed its policies for incoming workers. They were reportedly hired with the promise of higher pay.
Employee Li Sanshan said that he was promised 25,000 yuan (approximately $3,480) for two months of work. However, the company then required new hires to work two additional months at lower pay to receive the payment.
“Foxconn released very tempting recruiting offers, and workers from all parts of the country came, only to find they were being made fools of,” Li told The Guardian.
Videos of the violent protests circulating on social media show groups of workers clashing with local police dressed in white hazmat suits. The angry crowd is seen breaking through barricades and using objects to damage property on the compounds.
— YagyaSenl Yuliya (@Yugyasnl_YaIiya) November 23, 2022
— CrazyChinaStuff (@Crazychinastuff) November 23, 2022
In their attempts to stop the riots, police are seen in some videos beating employees with batons or kicking them.
Dozens of #CCP police surround and kick a #Foxconn worker during the latest #iPhone city riots. Newly recruited Workers found they were cheating and wanted to go home. See my previous tweets for more details. pic.twitter.com/9t1SYShgTv
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferzeng97) November 23, 2022
On Thursday, Foxconn addressed their employees’ wage complaints and blamed the issue on a technical error.
“We apologize for an input error in the computer system and guarantee that the actual pay is the same as agreed and the official recruitment posters,” the company said in a statement.
Foxconn promised to “try its best to actively solve the concerns and reasonable demands of employees,” offering to pay up to $1,400 to newly recruited workers who choose to leave. Those who wish to stay were promised “comprehensive support.”
On Wednesday, Apple noted that authorities have been sent to Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility.
“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed,” the company said.
The protests come amid frustration over COVID-19 restrictions that have confined millions of citizens to their homes and forced employees to live at their workplaces.
On Thursday, the country reported its highest number of new Coronavirus cases, with 31,444 new infections.
According to authorities, Zhengzhou will impose a five-day lockdown in its urban districts starting from midnight Friday.