Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group on Monday, January 10, said it has implemented a range of corrective actions and will start bringing back team members gradually to the Sriperumbudur factory, which was shut down last month following a mass food-poisoning incident at the plant's offsite dormitory facility.
The factory, located on the outskirts of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, was shut down on December 18 after workers' protests on the back of a mass-food poisoning incident at the offsite dormitory facility. The company said it has been working on a â€śseries of improvementsâ€ť to fix the issues found at the dormitory. "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," Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) said in a statement.
An Apple spokesperson said the Sriperumbudur facility continues to be on probation and that the company is closely monitoring the situation. "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 offsite accommodations and dining rooms at Sriperumbudur," the spokesperson said.
Workers will start to return gradually as soon as Apple is certain its standards are being met in every dormitory and dining area, the spokesperson emphasised.
Apple had put the Sriperumbudur factory of the iPhone assembler Foxconn on probation following worker protests and an assessment that revealed substandard living conditions, saying it will ensure strict standards are met before the unit reopens.
While the companies did not comment on the expected timelines for full resumption of operations, the sources told PTI that full resumption of operations at the plant will take more time and workers will only be brought back in a phased manner over the next few months.
The commercial production of the newly-launched iPhone 13 series was reportedly expected to start at the Foxconn plant by February. It is unclear if Apple's probation would affect these plans.
In December 2021, the Foxconn plant in Sriperumbudur became the centre of a controversy after over 250 workers fell ill due to food poisoning at an off-site hostel. Following this, hundreds of Foxconn workers took to the streets in protest. The workers were frustrated as the company allegedly did not reveal details about the health of their colleagues, or their whereabouts. However, Tiruvallur District Collector Alby John later revealed 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 protest took place on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway near Sriperumbudur for several hours on December 18. Sixty-seven of the protesting workers, who were all women, were detained in a private hall and released only 24 hours later. A freelance journalist and an activist were also taken into custody for a few hours and later released.