Foxconn’s India Factory Restarts Production After Protests

Foxconn factory in southern India at the centre of staff protests has restarted production, but it will take months to return to full capacity.

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

Its closure came after protests erupted, when 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 reportedly hospitalised as a result.

Three week closure

Female workers had told Reuters previously they lived in crowded dorms without flushing toilets, and food served at worker hostels sometimes crawled with worms.

Apple reacted to the issue within its supply chain, 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, but 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.

Taiwan’s Foxconn reportedly began restructuring its local management team, and took immediate steps to improve facilities and added that all employees would continue to be paid while it makes necessary improvements to restart operations.

It was reported that the factory makes the iPhone 12 models and had started trial production of the iPhone 13.

Production restart

Now Reuters, citing a company official, has reported that Foxconn has restarted production at the plant.

The company official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the factory reopened with one shift and 120 workers, and said it would take over two months for the plant to produce at full capacity.

The factory normally runs three shifts when operating normally.

Apple declined to comment on Wednesday, but had said on Monday the plant remained on probation, and that it would continue monitoring conditions at workers’ dormitories and dining halls, along with independent auditors.

Foxconn did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, Reuters reported.

Supply chain sensitivities

Apple of course 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.

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.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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