Electronics manufacturer Foxconn has halted recruitment in China, which it claims is due to plans to further automate processes, amid speculation of a reduction in production demand by its key client Apple.
In fact, the recruitment freezes among Foxconn this time is due to its long pronounced plans to install million robots to replace human, Chinese newspaper Beijing News reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified employees.
Foxconn chairman Terry Gou had ordered all factories in China earlier this year to beef up automated manufacturing processes by using more robots. According to the report, if any factories plan to conduct large-scale recruitment, it will need his personal approval.
The manufacturer makes various kinds of Apple products including iPhone and iPad, had denied earlier its hiring freeze in its largest Chinese base in Shenzhen was linked to lackluster iPhone 5 sales worldwide.
However, Foxconn in an official statement contributed the slowdown in recruitment process to "an unprecedented rate of return of employees following the Chinese New Year holiday" as compared to past years.
In the Beijing News report, the unidentified source, however, admitted the recruitment freeze in Foxconn was "somehow related to the reduction in iPhone 5 production".
In January, Apple has cut its component orders for the iPhone 5 due to the weaker-than-expected demand, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.
Foxconn's determination to replace human labors with robots are not groundless. In June 2011, Gou announced the company would deploy one million robots across factory assembly lines within three years.
The move will improve production efficiency and combat rising labor costs, and is also believed to be in response to a spate of suicides and criticism over working conditions at the company.