BEIJING (AP) — The company that assembles Apple Inc.’s iPhones apologized Thursday for a pay dispute that triggered employee protests at a factory where anti-virus controls have slowed production.
Employees complained Foxconn Technology Group changed the terms of wages offered to attract them to the factory in the central city of Zhengzhou. Foxconn is trying to rebuild the workforce after employees walked out last month over complaints about unsafe conditions.
Videos on social media showed police in white protective suits kicking and clubbing workers during the protest that erupted Tuesday and lasted into the next day.
Foxconn, the biggest contract assembler of smartphones and other electronics for Apple and other global brands, blamed a “technical error” in the process of adding new employees and said they would be paid what they were promised.
“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,” said a company statement. It promised to “try its best to actively solve the concerns and reasonable demands of employees.”
Late Wednesday, Apple said it had people on the ground at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility.
“We are reviewing the situation and working closely with Foxconn to ensure their employees’ concerns are addressed,” the company based in Cupertino, California, said.
The dispute comes as the ruling Communist Party tries to contain a surge in coronavirus cases without shutting down factories, as it did in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Its tactics include “closed-loop management,” or having employees live at their workplaces without outside contact.
Authorities promised last month to reduce economic disruption by cutting quarantine times and making other changes to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which aims to isolate every case. Despite that, the infection surge has prompted authorities to suspend access to neighborhoods and factories and to close office buildings, shops and restaurants in parts of many cities.