Chinese workers who assemble the iPhone are literally lining up to quit a major Apple supplier thanks to tanking sales

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Chinese workers who assemble the iPhone are literally lining up to quit a major Apple supplier thanks to tanking sales

Apple iPhone China

Feng Li / Getty

A woman clutches an iPhone in China.

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  • Fewer people are buying new iPhones from Apple than ever before.
  • That's had a knock-on effect on the Chinese factory workers who assemble the iPhone for major Apple supplier Foxconn.
  • According to the South China Morning Post, workers are lining up to resign after seeing a reduction in wages of up to 25% and losing perks, such as free laundry.
  • Foxconn reportedly relies on Apple for about quarter of its business.

Apple's declining iPhone sales have had a knock-on effect on the poorly paid factory workers who assemble the device in China for manufacturing firm Foxconn.

A report on Friday by the South China Morning Post sheds light on the current status of workers at Foxconn's facilities in Henan province, in central China.

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According to the newspaper, workers have seen a reduction of up to 25% in their wages. That's down to the fact that "peak production" - a ramp-up in iPhone production in the runup to Christmas - didn't last as long, meaning workers had fewer opportunities to add to their base salary through overtime.

Read more: A short trip to India showed me just how badly Apple is screwing up in the world's biggest democracy

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There are other signs that Foxconn has been hit by falling iPhone sales. The Post had images of seasonal workers lining up to complete their exit paperwork. It said the lines form every day at the Zhengzhou facility.

A free shuttle service ferrying workers to the factory has also been cancelled, meaning some workers have to walk 40 minutes to work. A free laundry service was also cut, meaning workers have to pay a not insignificant chunk of their salary to do their washing and dry cleaning.

On average, workers at the Henan facility earn 2,000 yuan (US$299) to 3,000 ($447) yuan, the Post reported, with the chance to earn more with overtime shifts.

One worker told the Post that 2018's peak season only lasted 20 days, versus the usual four to five months. That chopped his salary from approximately 4,000 yuan (US$598) in October to 3,000 yuan ($447) in November.

The affected worker told the Post: "In September, our line supervisor told us that Apple added a new order for three million iPhone 8 Plus [units]. It only took us about 20 days to finish the production because we worked 18 hours a day in two shifts, including weekends. The peak season didn't last long at all."

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That tallies with a November report from the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Apple had cut production for its 2018 models, the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS Max. Apple CEO Tim Cook went on to warn investors in December of weaker iPhone sales.

Foxconn, according to the Post, relies on Apple for up to 30% of its business.

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