Foxconn offers to pay workers to leave world’s largest iPhone factory after violent protests
A protester carries a Samsung smartphone as she stands outside the offices of Apple’s iPhone supplier Foxconn in Taipei on May 9. Apple said its supplier would offer severance packages to workers who left its factories without official permission following the death of a worker in a live fire accident, angering workers. (Aizhu chong/AFP/Getty Images)
Apple has offered to pay severance packages to workers at its suppliers who had been fired for refusing to work on the iPhone 5 after violent protests broke out in the factories where they were forced to make it in China.
The company would use the revenue from the contracts, which amount to as much as $100 million, to help employees find new jobs outside the supply chain. Apple says it doesn’t expect to see the same level of disruption as last year, when hundreds of workers died or were sickened after spending two months in an underground camp.
Apple said Wednesday that it had offered $7.50 an hour for up to 10 months of severance after all of its suppliers agreed to the deal.
“I think it’s a very positive gesture by Apple on their part to recognize these were very difficult circumstances and that they believe strongly in what their workers are able to accomplish,” said Stephen Baker, an associate professor at Cornell University.
Baker said the plan should allow Apple to preserve human and environmental resources in the supply chain while allowing workers to find new jobs.
“You might have to pay them less and not provide as much for them,” he said, “but you don’t have to pay them more in terms of income — you just can pay them for this.”
The iPhone 5 has become the most important part of Apple’s consumer devices line after a year-long reign as the world’s most valuable personal computer maker, with a market value of $500 billion. It’s also part of a broader shift in global consumer spending away from computers to smartphones, and led in part to the success of the company’s quarterly earnings report Wednesday.