Indian iPhone factory restarts after protests and shutdown

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Maggots in the food, toilets that don’t flush, overcrowded quarters: The iPhone factory in India, which was closed for several weeks after mass food poisoning and protests by employees, has resumed production – initially only on a small scale, as the Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday.

Currently, only a single shift of just 120 workers is employed at the Foxconn factory near the city of Chennai, which actually employs around 17,000 people. A Foxconn manager explained that it will probably take more than two months before production is up and running again.

After more than 150 workers had to be treated briefly in the hospital and another 250 on an outpatient basis in December, there were protests by employees and relatives. Among other things, a highway was blocked for several hours until the police arrested people and ended the protests. Workers reported miserable and unsanitary conditions in the sleeping and eating areas. It is said that predominantly women are employed in the Indian plant.

Apple only got involved after the protests: at the end of December, the group admitted defects in “remote” facilities at the factory, saying the conditions did not meet the group’s supplier specifications. Apple then put the work on probation without explaining the significance of the move.

The group emphasized last Monday to Reuters again, the plant is still in a probationary period and they want to continue to monitor the conditions on site – independent auditors are also said to be involved. Foxconn previously announced that it would reorganize the factory’s management, but also referred to subcontractors with regard to the abuses.

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Violent riots broke out in another Indian iPhone factory over a year ago, partly because of wage arrears. Apple is aggressively expanding iPhone manufacturing in India, with mostly older-series devices usually destined for the local market. According to reports, Foxconn was scheduled to start final assembly of the current iPhone 13 in India in early 2022.


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