Apple Puts India iPhone Factory on Probation

Apple Puts India iPhone Factory on Probation

Foxconn, one of Apple’s key assembly partners for iPhones and other products, has a lot of work to do. The company shut down its factory in southern India recently. Temporary employees there protested their living conditions. Now, Apple has put the India iPhone factory on probation until Foxconn fixes the problems.

Substandard Living Conditions and Food Quality

Temporary workers at the factory just outside Chennai, India, staged a protest on Dec. 18. The temporary employees, mostly women, cited poor living conditions and food quality. The protest came after a number of cases of food poisoning at the factory led to hospitalizations.

The Tamil Nadu state government said the plant would resume operations on Dec. 26. According to Bloomberg, Foxconn pledged to improve the working and living conditions for the employees. The assembler promised to expand living areas at the India iPhone factory. It will also upgrade bathing facilities, and provide drinking water. Going a step further, Foxconn agreed to expand the factory and hire more workers.

A Company Plagued by Similar Problems

Foxconn has had a number of labor issues in the past. Most notably, the Taiwanese company suffered a rash of suicides in its Chinese factories in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers faced harsh living and working conditions under the factories’ leadership.

In response to the protests in Chennai, Apple sent a team of independent auditors to evaluate the living and working conditions at the India iPhone factory. An Apple spokesperson said the factory didn’t meet the Cupertino-based companies standards.

We found that some of the remote dormitory accommodations and dining rooms being used for employees do not meet our requirements and we are working with the supplier to ensure a comprehensive set of corrective actions are rapidly implemented.

During the extended downtime, Foxconn will continue paying all the factory’s employees. It is restructuring its local management team and systems, as well as making the promised improvements to living and working conditions.

The Chennai plant will remain on probation until Apple is satisfied Foxconn has met its standards. The assembler has not specified when it plans to reopen the plant.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Jeff: For those living, working or otherwise familiar with South Asia, this is no surprise, but a longstanding systemic problem. Working conditions for physical labourers are beyond poor to outright dangerous (yours truly has witnessed multiple instances of severe injury and death), including locking working women into factory rooms with highly combustible materials with little to no ventilation). Food is generally not provided and women have their shoes taken away for lunch breaks in many places so that they cannot walk far from the work place. Living conditions, if provided, are appalling and contaminated. Time off, holidays, sick leave, child… Read more »