Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group on Wednesday, December 29 said that it is restructuring its local management team, after the recent mass food-poisoning incident at Sriperumbudur factory's offsite dormitory facility. An Apple spokesperson said Foxconn's Sriperumbudur facility had been placed on probation.
In a statement on Wednesday, Foxconn said that all employees will continue to be paid while â€śnecessary improvementsâ€ť are undertaken before restarting operations. Foxconn said it will continue to provide support for staff as they return to work. "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," a statement by Foxconn Technology Group said.
The company said that some offsite dormitory facilities did not meet the required standards. An Apple spokesperson said, "We hold our suppliers accountable to the highest standards in the industry and regularly conduct assessments to ensure compliance." Following recent concerns about food safety and accommodation conditions at Foxconn Sriperumbudur, Apple dispatched independent auditors to undertake additional detailed assessments. "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," an Apple spokesperson said.
The Foxconn statement said that safety and well being of employees is the company's top priority. "We have been investigating recent issues at our Sriperumbudur facility in Tamil Nadu and have found that some offsite dormitory facilities do not meet the required standards. We are 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," Foxconn said.
Meanwhile, the Apple spokesperson said that Foxconn's Sriperumbudur facility has been placed on probation and that the company will ensure strict standards are met before the facility reopens. "We will continue to monitor conditions closely," the Apple spokesperson said in an email. While the plant was widely expected to open around December 30, Apple's latest move to put Foxconn facility on probation could mean some delay in resumption of operations at the plant until all of the standards are met by Foxconn for its employees, say market watchers. There is no official word from Foxconn yet on when the operations at the said unit will resume.
Earlier this month, 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.