(Bloomberg) -- Foxconn Technology Group resumed some production Monday at its main iPhone-making site in Zhengzhou, according to local officials, though it was unclear how many workers returned, highlighting the ongoing uncertainties the global tech supply chain faces amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Henan Governor Yin Hong inspected the site on Monday to assess the company’s virus-prevention measures as workers went back to work after an extended holiday, according to the Chinese Communist Party city committee in Zhengzhou.
Yet just the day before, Foxconn told some workers that it was postponing the resumption of production and wouldn’t be able to decide on a back-to-work date for the site “until further notice,” according to a version of an internal message reviewed by Bloomberg News. The site is one of many run by the iDPBG business unit, which makes gadgets for Apple Inc. at a factory in Zhengzhou in central China and two other plants in Shenzhen. It’s not clear how many employees received the message and whether other workers were summoned back.
Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., declined to comment on the message and said on Monday its factories will comply with government requirements and resume output in an “orderly manner” by staggering the return of workers.
The rapid change in developments highlights the fluidity in responses by local governments and companies as they seek to contain the coronavirus while minimizing economic impact. Foxconn has told employees at its southern Shenzhen headquarters not to return to work after the extended Lunar New Year break ended Feb. 10, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg.
Not all of its employees returned to their hometowns for the holiday break so there are still some available workers on production sites, according to people familiar with the plant operations, though it’s unclear how many.
The unit could also struggle to hire back workers after the holiday period. A recruitment app for iDPBG shows that two of its plants in Shenzhen had received only 800 applications from former workers as of Monday morning. The facilities are seeking as many as 3,000 ex-workers.
Apple and Foxconn were among the first corporations to try and quantify the epidemic’s impact. Hon Hai slashed its 2020 outlook last 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 recognizable consumer brands, Foxconn has become a high-profile symbol of how the outbreak is disrupting Chinese manufacturing and the world’s supply of electronics.
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