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Foxconn suspends hiring at largest iPhone factory

The world’s largest iPhone factory, operated by Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, has suspended hiring for three days due to limited quarantine capacity, according to two local recruitment agents.

Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility is facing a shortage of workers since a mass exodus earlier this month spurred by a Covid-19 outbreak in the city. It now needs 100,000 additional workers to return to full capacity, according to state media.

Foxconn’s massive facility is an important employer in China’s central Henan province. Local grass-roots cadres have mobilised to help with recruitment, with one county calling on veterans to work for the Taiwanese manufacturer.

Yet strict quarantine policies have meant that there is not enough room for a huge influx of workers. Hiring has been suspended from Thursday to Saturday, an agent told the South China Morning Post over the phone on Friday. The person, who asked not to be named because he is not allowed to speak with news media, said many jobseekers are still applying.

More than 100,000 applicants have put their information into Foxconn’s pre-hiring system, Chinese financial news outlet Yicai quoted an unidentified Foxconn executive as saying on Friday. If every applicant were hired, it would be enough for Foxconn to fill all of its vacant positions.

Under the required closed-loop mode of production that keeps workers confined to Foxconn’s campus to minimise the spread of Covid-19, potential job candidates must go through a health check and a quarantine at a designated location before going to work on production lines. New hires must quarantine for four days, according to the latest notice from Foxconn’s iPhone production unit in Zhengzhou.

Once Foxconn solves the capacity issue, hiring is expected to speed up, the second agent said.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The factory, which at its peak had about 300,000 workers, is struggling to maintain normal production. Apple issued a rare statement on November 6 saying the Covid-19 restrictions have delayed iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments amid “significantly reduced capacity” at the Zhengzhou facility.

In addition to local government support, Foxconn has been trying to address the worker shortage with its own incentives. This month, it has been offering a 500 yuan (US$70) bonus to returning workers and quadrupled its daily attendance bonus to 400 yuan.

An initial batch of new recruits arrived at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility last Sunday, according to a report by the government-run Henan Daily. Henan Vice-Governor Sun Shougang visited the campus that day, encouraging the employees to “be confident and united” that “production and living order will soon return to normal”.

Neither Foxconn nor the local government has reported the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak at the facility. Henan health authorities recorded 108 confirmed cases on Thursday, 107 from Zhengzhou. Among the 1,579 asymptomatic cases, 1,556 were from Zhengzhou. South China Morning Post

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