Apple’s biggest iPhone plant woos workers with fat bonuses amid omicron outbreak in central China

Ann Cao, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jan 18 2022 12:41 PM

The world’s largest iPhone factory is offering former workers extra cash to return to its production line, as a local Omicron Covid-19 outbreak disrupts travel to the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

According to a job posting by the Zhengzhou campus of Foxconn Technology Group, the biggest assembler of Apple handsets, the Taiwan company’s iPhone component production unit known as innovative Product Enclosure Business Group (iPEBG) is giving returning workers a signing bonus of 9,500 yuan (US$1,470), in addition to a monthly income of 6,865 yuan.

The same bonus package was previously offered last July, when the factory was ramping up production of the new iPhone 13 series, according to the South China Morning Post’s review of past recruitment advertisements.

The plant had raised rewards for former workers from 5,500 yuan to 8,000 yuan in June, before deciding to increase the amount even more.

The increased incentives this time around show Foxconn’s urgency in hunting for experienced workers ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which goes from January 31 to February 6, when migrant workers across China usually return home to reunite with families.

Meanwhile a recent surge in Omicron and Delta coronavirus cases in Henan province, of which Zhengzhou is the capital, has led authorities to place quarantine restrictions on people leaving and entering the region.

Henan reported 68 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, one of them in Zhengzhou, adding to a total of 2,471 cases.

While Foxconn is offering the highest signing bonuses to returning workers, it has also promised an 8,500 yuan reward for new recruits hired through the company’s internal referral programme, as well as 1,000 yuan for the corresponding referrer. New joiners who applied on their own will get a 9,000 yuan bonus.

Foxconn did not respond to an emailed request for comment on Monday.

The company has previously said that all its Zhengzhou-based workers had been subject to multiple rounds of mandatory coronavirus nucleic acid tests.

Foxconn’s sprawling production lines in Zhengzhou – spread across the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone, the Zhengzhou Economic and Technological Development Area, and Zhongmou County – are located in low-risk zones for Covid-19 infections.

The Zhengzhou production complex, which employs more than a quarter of a million workers, plays a vital role in Apple’s global supply chain.

In comparison, Foxconn’s plant near the southern Indian city of Chennai, which was briefly shut down last month during a workers’ protest over food poisoning, employs only around 17,000 people.

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