20,000 workers leave China's largest iPhone plant

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20,000 workers leave China's largest iPhone plant

More than 20,000 employees at Apple Inc supplier Foxconn's huge Chinese plant, mostly new hires that are not yet working on production lines, have left, a Foxconn source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The departures from the world's largest iPhone factory deal has been a blow to the Taiwanese company that has been dealing with strict COVID 19 restrictions that have caused discontent among workers and disrupted production ahead of Christmas and January's Lunar New Year holiday.

Concerns about Apple's ability to deliver products for the busy holiday period are mounting as the worker unrest continues at the Zhengzhou plant, which produces the U.S. company's popular iPhone 14 models.

The source said that the departures will complicate Foxconn's goal of resuming full production by the end of November, because of the sometimes violent unrest.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, known as Foxconn, did not respond to requests for comment. Apple, which said it had staff at the factory on Thursday, wouldn't make a statement on Friday.

In China, employees complained about sharing dormitories with colleagues who tested positive for COVID, a rare case of open dissent. They claim that they were misled over compensation benefits at the factory that accounts for 70 per cent of global iPhone shipments.

On Thursday, Foxconn offered 10,000 yuan $1,400 to protesters who agreed to resign and leave the plant.

The company apologised for a pay-related technical error when hiring, which workers say was a factor that led to protests with security personnel.

On Friday, videos posted on Chinese social media showed long lines of luggage-laden workers queuing for buses. A Foxconn source said some new hires had left the campus but did not elaborate on how many. The departures had no impact on current production, as the new staff had to take training courses before they could work online, according to a person.

The incident has a big impact on our public image, but it has little impact on our current capacity. The current capacity of our current capacity is not affected, the source said.

There's only so much corporate can do on pandemic prevention. It's been a problem for a while. The person said that this is a problem faced by everyone, pointing out worker unrest triggered by rigid COVID restrictions, including upheaval at another Apple supplier, Quanta, in May.

The unrest at the Foxconn plant comes as China logs record numbers of COVID infections and grapples with increasing lockdowns that have caused frustration among citizens across the country. It exposed communication problems and mistrust of Foxconn management among some staff.

Foxconn launched a hiring drive this month, promising bonuses and higher salaries after it had to enact COVID curbs in October. The restrictions forced the company to isolate many employees, prompting several to flee.