The massive food poisoning among employees of the Indian iPhone factory of the world’s largest contract manufacturer Foxconn is now causing Apple to question production there. The US group has now put the plant “on probation”.
Apple has by its own account as well as Foxconn in the context of investigations detected by independent auditors that some of the facilities outside the iPhone plant in southern India, where the employees of the plant housed and fed, not quoted by Apple standards meet.
However, it is completely unclear what the imposition of a probation period actually means. Apple took similar measures last year when violent protests broke out at an iPhone factory owned by Foxconn competitor Wistron in India and threatened at the time that it would no longer give the Taiwanese contract manufacturer any further orders if one considers the treatment of the factory’s employees do not improve.
Apple’s recent action against Foxconn goes back to protests that emerged after more than 250 women were treated for food poisoning. Around 150 people even had to go to the hospital. They build Apple products in the iPhone factory near the metropolis of Chennai and are usually housed in a staff dormitory in the vicinity of the factory.
Production stalled for almost two weeks
The production of Apple smartphones in the plant has been on hold since December 18, 2021, after which all 17,000 employees at the site are affected. So far it is unclear when the plant will start production again. Foxconn says it is currently restructuring the management of the plant and continues to pay employees their wages, even if they are not currently active in production.
According to Apple, independent auditors have now been sent to examine the living and working conditions of employees in the Indian iPhone factory. The problems they identified should now be resolved immediately. The local authorities are now also exerting pressure because there were probably problems not only with catering for the employees but also with the electricity and water supply in the employee dormitory.
The effects of the plant closure in Chennai are likely to be minimal for the time being, as the location only contributes a small part of the global production of Apple’s smartphones. However, the production capacity there should actually be expanded significantly in the next few months and years because Apple will soon also have large numbers of the iPhone 13 and other current models produced there. So far, “only” the devices of the previous generation have come off the production line.
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