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Article

18 Dec 2021

Author:
Bharathy Singaravel, The News Minute

India: Women workers at Foxconn iPhone manufacturing plant stage mass protest after food poisoning in company-provided hostel

"Mass protest by Foxconn workers in TN, allege company hushed up severe food poisoning", 18 December 2021

Hundreds of women working at Foxconn’s Sriperumbudur plant that manufactures iPhones for Apple protested on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway for several hours...The workers were worried about the state of over 250 of their colleagues, who had taken ill, after consuming food provided at the company provided hostel. Though a small-scale protest had started from December 15 onwards...by Saturday, the workers had become frustrated due to lack of communication from the company. While workers alleged that neither the whereabouts of these ill workers nor the exact numbers of those affected were notified to them, a statement by the Tiruvallur District Collector Alby John reveals that 256 workers had Acute Diarrhoeal Disease on December 15, 2021. Of these, 159 had been hospitalised, while the others were treated as outpatients at different hospitals...

The protests became widespread with rumours of deaths of at least two workers circulating, leading to alarm. One woman worker TNM spoke to recounts that people started fainting, had dysentery and were vomiting at the Poonamalee IMA hostel belonging to Foxconn. 

“One of the women looked like she was close to death. But the company simply didn’t want the information to come out, so they kept all the workers locked up in the hostel itself..” she alleged. She also alleged that the affected women were not even taken to the hospital immediately...

The Kanchipuram Collector, M Aarthi, told TNM that the protesters dispersed...following reassurances from TM Anbarasan, the Minister for Rural Industries and Small Industries and DMK MLA for Alandur and an apology issued by Foxconn. 

The worker TNM spoke to alleged that the government officials and even the minister, did not give them proper assurances...

The Collector however also told TNM that the minister has promised the workers an investigation into the alleged food poisoning, and assurance that the company will bring better infrastructure and improve living conditions in the hostels...

“The workers did not call off the protest willingly, but the decision was due to overwhelming insistence of TM Anbarasan and government officials to disperse. The workers have told us that if they continue to be kept in the dark regarding their affected colleagues, they will re-start the protest,” the Penn Thozhillar Sangam member said...

TNM attempted to reach Foxconn for comments but the company had not responded by the time of publishing the story. This article will be updated with their response if and when it is received.

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