Coronavirus: iPhone maker Foxconn warns staff to keep away from Shenzhen production base

Date: Monday, February 10, 2020
Source: South China Morning Post

Foxconn, China’s largest private employer, recently slashed its 2020 sales outlook, anticipating disruptions in manufacturing

Foxconn Technology Group told employees at its Shenzhen facility not to return to work when the extended Lunar New Year break ends on February 10, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

The moratorium represents an extreme effort by Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry and Apple’s most important supplier, to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has paralysed much of China’s manufacturing industry.

The Taiwanese company’s main iPhone production base is farther north in Zhengzhou, but coastal Shenzhen serves as its Chinese headquarters, where most the tens of thousands it employs there are out-of-towners. The firm assembles a small portion of iPhones there.

“To safeguard everyone’s health and safety and comply with government virus prevention measures, we urge you not to return to Shenzhen,” Foxconn wrote in a text message sent to employees.

“We’ll update you on the situation in the city,” Foxconn said. “The company will protect everyone’s work-related rights and interests in the duration. As for the happy reunion date in Shenzhen, please wait for further notice.”

Apple and Foxconn were among the first corporations to try and quantify the epidemic’s impact. Hon Hai, the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer, slashed its 2020 outlook this week, anticipating disruptions to Apple’s carefully calibrated production chain as well as weaker consumer demand and overall economic growth.

As China’s largest private employer and a key partner to many of the world’s most recognisable consumer brands, Foxconn has become a high-profile symbol of how the outbreak could disrupt Chinese manufacturing and hence the world’s supply of made-in-China electronics.

It is unclear whether the Shenzhen policy extends to all employees or to Foxconn’s other facilities. The company, which makes the vast majority of the world’s iPhones from the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou in Henan province, officially resumes production on February 10.

Foxconn, however, said in a statement that workers returning to Zhengzhou from outside the province will be sequestered for 14 days, Bloomberg News has reported.

“As a matter of policy and for reasons of commercial sensitivity, we do not comment on our specific production facilities,” Foxconn said in a statement in response to Bloomberg’s queries. “We have been closely monitoring the current public health challenge linked to the coronavirus and we are applying all recommended health and hygiene practices to all aspects of our operations in the affected markets.”


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