Apple Places Indian Foxconn Factory On Probation

After unrest and protests following mass food poisoning incident of workers, Apple places Foxconn factory in India on probation

Apple has reacted to an issue within its supply chain, namely at a southern Indian factory of iPhone assembler Foxconn.

The Foxconn plant located in the town of Sriperumbudur town near Chennai, employs about 17,000 people, and has been closed since 18 December.

It follows protests that erupted this month after more than 250 women who work at the Foxconn plant and live in one of the offsite dormitories, were treated for food poisoning. More than 150 were hospitalised, Reuters reported.


Factory probation

Apple itself has stepped into the case, and placed the factory on probation after both it and Taiwan-based Foxconn found that some worker dormitories and dining rooms did not meet required standards.

Apple did not explain what probation meant, Reuters reported.

However when Apple placed the southern Indian plant of another supplier, Wistron Corp on probation after unrest last year, it said it would not award that company new business until it addressed the way workers were treated.

Apple and Foxconn did not say when they expected the impacted factory to reopen.

A spokesperson for Taiwan’s Foxconn was quoted by Reuters as saying on Wednesday that it was restructuring its local management team, taking immediate steps to improve facilities and added that all employees would continue to be paid while it makes necessary improvements to restart operations.

An Apple spokesperson meanwhile reportedly said on Wednesday it had dispatched independent auditors to assess conditions at the dormitories “following recent concerns about food safety and accommodation conditions at Foxconn Sriperumbudur.”

Apple reportedly said it had found that some of the dormitory accommodations and dining rooms, which were not on the factory’s premises, did not meet its requirements and that it was working with the supplier to ensure a comprehensive set of corrective actions, adding that it will ensure its strict standards are met before the facility reopens.

The factory reportedly makes the iPhone 12 models and had started trial production of the iPhone 13.

Foxconn factory Shenzhen China 2005 - by Steve Jurvetson from Wikimedia
A Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China. Image credit: Steve Jurvetson

Supply chain sensitivities

Apple is notoriously sensitive to issues within its supply chain, and has beefed up its oversight capabilities over the years, after a number of scandals associated with contractors.

Companies such as Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron all assemble the iPhone smartphone.

In March 2018 for example, Apple’s regular audit of its supply chain found a higher number of serious labour and environmental violations, but overall things had improved for its supplier workforce.

Apple’s auditing of its supply chain is a regular practice as the firm seeks to avoid the negative headlines of past years after problems surfaced with a number of its suppliers.

foxconn Apple iPhone factory China accident

Factories such as this Indian plant are important to Apple’s supply chain, as it seeks to cut its reliance on its Chinese supply chain amid trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.