The Chinese government is tapping military veterans and Communist party members to help recruit iPhone makers at the labor-strapped Apple factory.
China is calling for them to “respond to the government’s call” and “aid in the resumption of production” at the Foxconn plant in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou. The factory makes half of the world’s iPhones.
The plant has seen severely stunted production since the onset of the pandemic due to China’s zero-tolerance COVID policy. Last month, hundreds of workers quit after a COVID outbreak locked them in the plant for weeks while they were forced to work full days.
The government has reportedly handed out recruitment quotas to its newly enlisted veterans and party member. China has not made clear what the quotas are, or how the recruiters will be compensated.
“It’s a great irony,” Adam Segal, a Council on Foreign Relations member, told the New York Times. “It’s clearly reflective of the sorry state of the economy and the worry that Apple and others may relocate.”
Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch, a New York-based Chinese labor rights group, told the Times, “It is quite rare to see a mass recruiting with such a large-scale use of the government’s power,” but that Foxconn is a major taxpayer and employer in the country.
Foxconn has committed to offering workers who had quit the factory a one-time bonus of 500 yuan, or $70 if they returned. Those who returned by mid-November were promised an additional 3,000 yuan, or around $420, if they lasted 30 days.
The plant also upped hourly pay by about 70 cents from earlier this year.