Foxconn, the Taiwan-based technology giant, said it's not trying to counter negative media reports by giving 71 staffers at its plant in Wuhan, Hubei Province, title to apartments, which the employees cannot sell until they work for the company for another eight years.
"The two-bedroom apartments, measuring between 99.6 and 126.36 square meters, are not located in downtown," a staffer with the company's information office in Wuhan who refused to be named told the Global Times.
The company's plant in Wuhan employs 20,000 workers.
"The aim is to encourage all employees to work hard and keep outstanding talents serving the company longer," said the staffer. "The employees are in important managerial and technology-related positions. They have served the company for at least five years and have earned an A in their work evaluation for two consecutive years."
Li Xiong, 32, a project manager from the plant who won the largest apartment after working for the company for 10 years, told the Global Times the windfall is something he likely could not otherwise afford. "Apartments in big cities like Wuhan are too expensive. This will help me settle down."
It is not the first time Foxconn has rewarded a few outstanding staffers with apartments.
"The Shenzhen plant in Guangdong Province has given away more than 600 apartments since 2000," Liu Kun, spokesperson of Foxconn, told the Global Times, adding that the reward plan will be extended to other plants.
Liu denied that allocating free apartments is an attempt by the company to divert public attention from negative news that has made headlines around the world.
Foxconn's headquarters in Taipei Tuesday told the Global Times that its plant in Yantai, Shandong Province, employed interns under 16 years old, which it pledged to investigate.
"The apartment giveaways could help raise the company's damaged reputation," Wang Pu, founder of the Beijing-based Allpku Management Consulting, told the Global Times Wednesday.
"Though Foxconn has done well expanding its plants and maintaining staff benefits, the company needs to further polish its image and ensure worker's right to be heard and improve their involvement in decision making," said Wang.
"In China, many companies operate like Foxconn, where employers are the masters of everything, leaving little room for workers to vent their complaints," he said.
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