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Violent protests erupt at iPhone factory in Zhengzhou amid pay complaints and COVID-19 containment measures

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Hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone plant in China, with some men smashing surveillance cameras and windows, footage uploaded on social media showed.

The rare scenes of open dissent in China mark an escalation of unrest at the massive factory in Zhengzhou city that has come to symbolize a dangerous build-up in frustration with the country’s ultra-harsh COVID-19 rules, as well as inept handling of the situation by the world’s largest contract manufacturer.

The trigger for the protests, which began early on Wednesday, appeared to be a plan to delay bonus payments, many of the demonstrators said on livestream feeds. The videos could not be immediately verified by Reuters.

“Give us our pay!” chanted workers who were surrounded by people in full hazmat suits, some carrying batons, according to footage from one video.

Other footage showed tear gas being deployed and workers taking down quarantine barriers.

Unrest at the Foxconn facility began in October when, after numerous outbreaks of COVID-19, the facility implemented a “closed loop system” whereby staff were forced to live and work at the facility, without any contact with the outside world.

Prior to the unrest, the facility employed 200,000 people, but many of them fled once the closed loop system began, forcing the company to try to quickly recruit new workers to maintain their production targets. Staff are reportedly forced to sleep in on-site dormitories next to workers infected with COVID-19.

In the videos, workers vented about how they were never sure if they would get meals while in quarantine, or over inadequate curbs to contain an outbreak.

“Foxconn never treats humans as humans,” said one person.

Many reasons for unrest

Those protests escalated this week into complaints over compensation, new employee Li Sanshan told The Associated Press.

Li said he quit a catering job in response to advertising that promised 25,000 yuan (about $3,500 US) for two months of work. Li, 28, said workers were angry after discovering they first had to work two additional months at lower pay before they would receive the 25,000 yuan.

“Foxconn released very tempting recruiting offers, and workers from all parts of the country came, only to find they were being made fools of,” Li said.

Experts say the protests at the facility have become a flashpoint for broader unrest.

 

China doubles down on ‘zero COVID’ policy as cases skyrocket

 

Beijing reported the first COVID deaths in months as case numbers surge throughout the country. But despite the rising economic and political costs of China’s controversial ‘zero COVID’ lockdowns and quarantines, officials may see no alternative.

“It’s now evident that closed-loop production in Foxconn only helps in preventing COVID from spreading to the city, but does nothing (if not make it even worse) for the workers in the factory,” Aiden Chau of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, said in an email.

‘Pockets of unrest’

Jia Wang, the interim director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, says China is facing a labour crunch, and workers at the Foxconn factory and elsewhere know it.

“COVID has definitely made things more difficult in a closed loop system,” she told CBC News in an interview. “The workers are holding all the cards right now.”

Wang says it is shocking for outsiders to witness scenes of protest like that coming out of China, but the reality is that on any given day in the country, there could be hundreds of protests happening in the country that outsiders don’t hear about because the regime is able to control a lot of the information flow.

“There’s probably lot of little pockets of unrest going on all the time.”

Foxconn said in a statement it had fulfilled its payment contracts and that reports of infected staff living on campus with new recruits were “untrue.”

“Regarding any violence, the company will continue to communicate with employees and the government to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the company said.

Number and severity of outbreaks on the rise

Foxconn is a key supplier for Apple, manufacturing approximately 70 per cent of the company’s iPhones. The Zhengzhou plant is the largest single maker of the devices, although Foxconn has other facilities in China, Taiwan and India.

Security personnel in protective clothing appear to attack a protester during a protest at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China. Among other things, the facility is the world’s largest single manufacturer of iPhones. (The Associated Press)

Protests have flared as the number and severity of outbreaks has risen across China, prompting authorities in areas including Beijing, the capital, to close neighbourhoods and impose other restrictions that residents say go beyond what the national government allows.

More than 253,000 cases have been found in the past three weeks and the daily average is increasing, the government reported Tuesday. This week, authorities reported China’s first COVID-19 deaths in six months.

On Wednesday, the government reported 28,883 cases found over the past 24 hours, including 26,242 with no symptoms. Henan province, of which Zhengzhou is the capital, reported 851 in total.

The government will enforce its anti-COVID-19 policy while “resolutely overcoming the mindset of paralysis and laxity,” said a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, Mi Feng.

The city government of Guangzhou, the site of the biggest outbreaks, announced it opened 19 temporary hospitals with a total of almost 70,000 beds for coronavirus patients. The city announced plans last week to build hospital and quarantine facilities for 250,000 people.

Also on Wednesday, Beijing opened a hospital in an exhibition centre and suspended access to Beijing International Studies University after a virus case was found there. The capital earlier closed shopping malls and office buildings and suspended access to some apartment compounds.

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How to Start a Business?

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Market Research

You have to conduct research on the whole market and find out the gap. This gap will be your opportunity. Moreover, this research will give you an idea of how different businesses work and how they fulfill the needs of the people. Businesses work due to the demand for their products and services in the market. So, through this research, you have to collect information about the following things:

 

 

You can use surveys, questionnaires, and focus group interviews to extract information on the above factors.

 

Business Plan

Develop a complete roadmap for your business. This plan should cover all the details from the manufacturing to the sales and pricing.

 

It has a summary of the complete execution of the company, including the mission of the company, product or service of the company, competitors of the company, management, and employees of the company, as well as the location of the company. This plan should be in such a way that everyone can easily understand.

Investment For Business

If you are not self-funded, then you will need investment for your business. There are several ways to find investment, such as the following:

 

●     Venture capital

You can offer the shares of the company in exchange for shares of the company. In the beginning, you have to offer the company ownership to finance your project.

●     Crowdfunding

In this type of investment, a large number of people give funds to the startup. They are not given shares and profits from the company. However, the company provides them with gifts in the future for their finances.

●     Loans

There are many government and private companies that are offering loans for small and large companies. For this loan, you have to prepare a business plan, expense sheet, and expected profits. You can find several companies that are providing loans for businesses, such as Lendforall, Baker Tilly, West Bank Union, etc.

Structure of Business

Before starting a business, you have to select its structure. Traditionally, you will find the following structures of business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Corporation

 

To select any structure, you must analyze and compare your business with others. You will get an idea of which structure will be the most suitable for your business.

Business Tools

Nowadays, there are several business tools available in the market. These tools have made business management easy to a great extent. However, you have to invest in these tools to compete the market. Here are some important tools for business:

 

 

Many other tools are available in the market that are used for different management purposes.

Registration of Business

You have to register your business with the federal government. Moreover, you should apply for the insurance for your business. There are many other documents, such as tax IDs from federal and state governments, licenses and permits for your business, and applying for a business bank account.

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Show Employers You Can Hit the Ground Running

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Employers are increasingly stating: “We want someone who can hit the ground running.”

Essentially, the message is, “Don’t expect us to explain the basics. We expect you to know your sh*t.” Employers understand you’ll need time to learn their business, applications, software, infrastructure, etc. However, they expect that you’re proficient in Microsoft Office Suite software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), understand file management (creating, saving, and organizing files), and know how to troubleshoot common computer problems, and won’t be learning these basic computer skills as part of your learning curve on their dime.

Employers aren’t in the business of training people. You’re responsible for your career; therefore, you’re responsible for acquiring the skillset you need.

For an employee’s compensation to be justified, an ROI (return on investment) is required. When referring to employment, ROI refers to the value an employee brings to the company relative to their compensation. Employers pay their employees, and employees work for their wages. Employee work value is created when their work directly or indirectly results in profitably selling the company’s goods and services. Your best chance of job security (no guarantee) is to be an employee who undeniably contributes measurable value to your employer’s profitability.

(Employee’s measurable value to the company) – (Employer’s investment in compensation) = (ROI)

Understandably, employers are looking for candidates who can make an immediate impact, individuals who can jump right in, learn and adapt quickly, and start delivering results as soon as possible. Hence, you want to distinguish yourself as being capable and willing to “hit the ground running.”

Here are some tips to help you present yourself as a fast-starting, high-potential hire:

Emphasize relevant experience

Presenting irrelevant information will be perceived as lacking the ability to communicate succinctly, a highly valued skill in the business world. Only share experiences and quantified results (key), results that are pertinent to the position you’re applying for.

When crafting your resume and cover letter, identify the skills, knowledge, and previous responsibilities/quantified results that align with the job you’re aiming for. By demonstrating that you’ve “been there, done that” and brought measurable value to previous employers in a similar scenario, employers will feel confident that you can immediately deliver value.

Showcase transferable skills

Consider the universal soft skills that employers universally value.

  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Time management

Tell STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories—describing a specific situation, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results of your actions—that showcase your soft skills and explain how you can leverage them to succeed in the role you’re applying for. This’ll assure your interviewer you have the fundamental skills to achieve successful outcomes.

“While working at Norback, Jenkins, & St. Clair, I led a team of five architects to redesign a historic downtown Winnipeg landmark according to strict deadlines and complex stakeholder demands. I conducted Monday morning team meetings and used Slack to provide tailored updates to keep the team aligned. As a result of my communication skills, the project was completed on time and under the $7.5 million dollars budget.”

Discuss onboarding insights

A great way to position yourself as someone eager to hit the ground running is to show that you’ve considered what it’ll take to start delivering value.

“Based on my understanding of the typical onboarding timeline for this type of position, I anticipate completing all training and ramp-up activities within my first two weeks, enabling me to begin tackling projects by my first quarter.”

Assuming you’ve researched the company and studied current industry trends, which you should have done, mention the extra steps you’ve taken to prepare for the role. This’ll show your willingness to learn and will require minimal handholding.

Emphasize quick adaptability

Employers value the ability to adapt quickly to new situations and challenges. During your interviews, share examples of your flexibility and agility.

At some point in your career, you’ve likely had to learn something new (e.g., software, operating system) on the fly. Also likely, you’ve had to navigate a major change or disruption. Using STAR stories, explain how you approached these scenarios, your strategies, and the positive outcomes.

By showing resilience, resourcefulness, and adaptability, you demonstrate that you can thrive in ambiguous or rapidly evolving environments.

Propose a transition plan.

Presenting a transition plan is a strategy that wows employers, primarily because it is rare for a candidate to do this. This shows you’re ready to take ownership of your onboarding and deliver results.

Include specifics like:

  • Milestones you aim to accomplish in your first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Training activities or learning opportunities you’ll pursue.
  • Initial projects or tasks you’d tackle to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Ways you’ll quickly build relationships with your new colleagues.

Showing this level of forethought and initiative shows you’re a strategic thinker, able to organize your thoughts, and, most importantly, eager to get started.

By touting your relevant experience, showcasing your transferable skills, discussing your onboarding insights, emphasizing your quick adaptability, and proposing a detailed transition plan, you’ll position yourself as a self-driven professional capable of driving results from the start, differentiating you from your competition.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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