Foxconn’s India unit to resume production after food poisoning protests

Image by Jonathan Weiss | Bigstockphoto

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn will reopen its iPhone production facility in Chennai’s Sriperumbudur area after it assured both Apple and the local Tamil Nadu government that it has implemented corrective measures to improve food safety at worker dormitories.

However, the facility remains on probation, which means Foxconn will not get any new business from Apple in near future.

Last month, protests erupted after more than 250 women who work at the Foxconn plant and live in one of the dormitories had to be treated for food poisoning. The company halted production at the unit on December 18.

Apple’s India spokesperson said that corrective actions were being implemented at the site by the company along with Foxconn.

“For the past several weeks, teams from Apple, along with independent auditors, have been working with Foxconn to ensure a comprehensive set of corrective actions are implemented in the off-site accommodations and dining rooms at Sriperumbudur,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Workers will start to return gradually as soon as we are certain our standards are being met in every dormitory and dining area.”

Meanwhile, Foxconn informed the Indian media that it has been working to improve conditions at the plant.

“We have been working on a series of improvements to fix issues we found at the offsite dormitory facilities at Sriperumbudur and to enhance the services we provide to our employees,” Foxconn said in a statement. “We have implemented a range of corrective actions to ensure this cannot happen again and a rigorous monitoring system to ensure workers can raise any concerns they may have, including anonymously.”

Foxconn’s 400 workers and 2,000 technical staff will resume work from January 12, as per media reports, which added that 70 workers have already returned to the plant.

However, the production, which makes the iPhone 12 smartphone, will resume in phases.

Foxconn was conducting a trial run for the production of Apple’s flagship smartphone, iPhone 13. However, it is unclear if Apple will place production orders with Foxconn for the flagship device.

Currently, Apple makes iPhones in India via Foxconn and Wistron, while a third partner, Pegatron, may start iPhone production by next month. All three partners were approved under the production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme for mobile manufacturing.

For Apple, the production-related hiccups come at a time when the Indian government is encouraging the US-based company to expand its local manufacturing ecosystem to generate annual production output worth $50 billion over the next five to six years in the country.

India wants Apple to prepare for manufacturing Macbooks, iPads, Aiirpods and smartwatches. To sweeten the incentives, India is currently preparing a plan to roll out new PLI schemes for production of notebooks and wearables. These schemes will specifically target players like Apple and Samsung.

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