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Article

31 Dec 2021

Author:
Amrit Dhillon, The Times

India: Apple announces ‘probation’ for Foxconn iPhone factory after food poisoning affecting 250 workers exposes ‘horrific’ working conditions

"No food, no water, no hope at iPhone factory in India", 31 December 2021

[...]

In mid-December, 150 workers who had eaten dinner at the vast factory making Apple gadgets in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai in India, became violently ill and were taken to hospital with vomiting and diarrhoea. Another 100 needed medical treatment for what doctors recorded as an outbreak of dysentery.

...Two days later hundreds of workers marched against the appalling conditions at the camps that house its estimated 15,000 workers. For hours protesters blocked the main road into the vast industrial estate to demand better conditions.

Foxconn...suspended operations on December 18 promising improvements after its customer, Apple, put the site “on probation” — meaning all orders were placed on hold...

When The Times visited the area this week, Saroja, 19, one of those who fell ill, described horrific conditions at the factory: windowless dormitories housing up to a dozen people with no access to water or sanitation; intense work and long hours for the equivalent of £100 a month...rotting vegetables and weevil-infested rice prepared in rat-infested outdoor kitchens overflowing with rubbish.

Another 21-year-old worker told the Hindustan Times: “...Water is opened for us only one-and-a-half hours before our shift. If we don’t save water for later use, we cannot use the toilets. Some women stay hungry throughout the day. There have been worms in our food and we sent photos to the supervisor, but no action was taken.”

Other workers who contacted by The Times said they were scared of losing their jobs if they spoke out, adding that even before the protest, they were constantly watched at the factory and in their living quarters...

The seven or eight barracks where the estimated 15,000 mostly female workers live...are...patrolled by...security guards...

One guard...spoke briefly. “More than four, sometimes six or seven, women sleep in the same 12ft by 12ft room. There isn’t much ventilation. The toilets haven’t been flushing because there has been no water,” he said...

Apple and Foxconn have promised to improve conditions at the Sriperumbudur factory, after local government inspectors declared the worker barracks unfit for use. Tamil Nadu’s local government said it had insisted that the company provided a minimum of four litres of drinking water per worker a day, plus water for bathing and ensured a reliable electricity supply.

Apple said: “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.”

Foxconn said it was “very sorry for the issue our employees experienced and are taking immediate steps to enhance the facilities and services we provide at the remote dormitory accommodations. We are also restructuring our local management team and our management systems to ensure we can achieve and maintain the high standards that are needed.”

The company promised that workers would be paid in full until the dormitories are improved...

Part of the following timelines

India: Around 2000 women workers stage protest over living & working conditions in Foxconn iPhone manufacturing plant after workers are hospitalised with food poisoning; incl. company comments

India: Around 2000 women workers stage protest over living & working conditions in Foxconn iPhone manufacturing plant after workers are hospitalised with food poisoning; incl. company comments