Apple on Monday said workers at its contract manufacturing company Foxconn’s plant at Sriperumbudur near Chennai will return to work gradually. Operations will resume in a step-by-step manner at the factory as hostels and dormitories get ready and certified as per local requirements stipulated by the government and Apple’s audits.
The plant was shut last month after a food poisoning incident that affected more than 200 women workers and the consequent protest by workers against the substandard living conditions.
An Apple spokesperson said, “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. Workers will start to return gradually as soon as we are certain our standards are being met in every dormitory and dining area.”
The spokesperson said the Sriperumbudur facility remains on probation and Apple will continue to monitor conditions very closely.
Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin had on Friday said in the Assembly that the Foxconn plant will resume operations on January 12, initially with 500 workers. The plant has more than 15,000 workers. Foxconn has been making iPhone 12 and testing production of iPhone 13 at the facility.
Sources told FE that Foxconn will resume operations with few workers initially and will bring in more in a phased manner once the upgrade of the dormitories is completed.
Though Apple and Foxconn did not reveal the exact date of resumption, sources said Foxconn has been working on a series of improvements at the offsite dormitory facilities. A rigorous monitoring system is also being put in place.
Following the food poisoning incident, the Tamil Nadu government had also intervened, instructing the labour department to ensure the quality of living standards.
Apple had put the factory on probation while an assessment revealed the substandard living conditions. It had announced that it would ensure strict standards are met before the unit reopens.
“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, we 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 had said earlier.