TAIPEI – A number of Apple’s top suppliers in China are trying to nullify fears of new coronavirus outbreaks by offering extra subsidies to workers if they don’t return home for the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.
Companies want workers to stand still and not risk exposing themselves to infections, demonstrating how concerns about COVID-19 and labor shortages are afflicting a vital part of the technology supply chain.
Pegatron, a leading iPhone supplier, is offering production line workers a 4,000 yuan ($ 617) bonus if they stay at its factories across China for the Lunar New Year holiday, also known as the Spring Festival. The company will also waive dorm rates between January and March.
Luxshare Precision Industry, which makes AirPods and Apple Watch headsets, has published an open letter urging employees to vacation at its factories and promises rewards and entertainment for those who stay.
“For the 2021 Spring Festival, we ask employees to spend their holidays where you are and to spend time with your colleagues in the company where it is safe. A different family, the same reunion, “Luxshare said in its official WeChat channel.” You will make yourself, family, friends, colleagues, business and country safe!
Leading Apple supplier Foxconn has posted a recruiting announcement for its Longhua campus in Shenzhen, which supplies not only Apple but also Google and Amazon, urging potential workers to “stay locally for Chinese New Year.”
“We will still be very busy during the Spring Festival and are recruiting more workers and offering good compensation,” reads the message. “Staying in place in the midst of the pandemic is making the biggest contribution to yourself, others and your country.”
The Spring Festival is China’s biggest holiday of the year, a time when people across the country – and even those living overseas – return to their hometowns to spend time with their families. But the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise, especially around Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, as well as in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin.
Technology vendors are desperate to avoid a repeat of last year, when they struggled to keep manufacturing sites hosting tens of thousands of workers virus-free as they face labor shortages caused by tight quarantine measures and traffic restrictions. during the first phase of the pandemic.
The outage had a significant impact on the release schedules for several products, including the iPhone 12 range.
The main goal of the technology providers is to reduce the risk of a superspreader event during the period of mass travel – known as Chunyun – surrounding the Spring Festival. The Chinese Ministry of Transport has estimated that approximately 1.7 billion trips will be made between January 28 and March 8.
But companies are also worried about labor shortages as returning workers face a number of obstacles before returning to work.
In addition to testing negative for the coronavirus, workers will need to quarantine for up to 14 days, followed by a seven-day self-monitoring program, depending on local government regulations.
This could make it difficult for technology vendors to quickly resume production, although demand for smartphones, notebooks, tablets, servers and auto parts remains strong and shortages of chips and components reverberate in the industry.
Both businesses and governments are trying to reduce the risk of further infections.
Zhengzhou, where Foxconn operates the largest iPhone assembly complex in the world, offered free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for everyone working and living in the economic zone of Zhengzhou Airport, the specific hub. for iPhone production, between January 24 and January 25 as a test run for popular tests.
The local government set up more than 280 temporary sites to conduct PCR tests, and only vehicles with special permits were allowed to travel during the exercise, according to Foxconn’s Zhengzhou site’s WeChat channel.
“We are ready to keep as many workers as possible during the Spring Festival to ensure that our production will not be affected by the upcoming holidays in China,” a Foxconn source told Nikkei Asia.
Last year Foxconn was even asked by the local government to briefly suspend its planned restart of production in Shenzhen in early February as officials feared the company was not ready to reopen the factory. It wasn’t until the end of March last year that the iPhone assembler secured enough workers to meet seasonal production demand.
China’s State Council issued a warning to all local governments on Monday that residents in high-risk regions should stay on site for Lunar New Year, while people in medium-risk areas will need approval from prevention authorities. travel epidemics. Even those in low-risk areas are encouraged not to travel during the holidays.
Beijing has also urged private companies to provide employees with “red envelopes” – containing money traditionally offered during the Chinese New Year and said to bring good luck to the recipient – as incentives to encourage them to stay in the workplace.
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