Reuters spoke to six women who worked at the Foxconn iPhone assembly factory in India near Chennai who described rats, worms in food, crowded dorms, and more as reasons for a recent protest that led to the facility temporarily shutting down in order to address poor living conditions for workers.
Workers slept on the floor in rooms, which housed between six to 30 women, five of these workers said. Two workers said the hostel they lived in had toilets without running water.
“People living in the hostels always had some illness or the other — skin allergies, chest pain, food poisoning,” another worker, a 21-year-old woman who quit the plant after the protest, told Reuters. Earlier food poisoning cases had involved one or two workers, she said. “We didn’t make a big deal out of it because we thought it will be fixed. But now, it affected a lot of people,” she said.
Apple and Foxconn said on Wednesday they found that some dormitories and dining rooms used for employees at the factory did not meet required standards.
The facility has been placed “on probation” and Apple will ensure its strict standards are met before the plant reopens, an Apple spokesperson said.
“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.”
Foxconn said it was restructuring its local management team and taking immediate steps to improve facilities. All employees would continue to be paid while it makes necessary improvements to restart operations, the company said. Venpa Staffing Services, a Foxconn contractor that runs the dorm where workers were sickened by food poisoning, declined to comment.
Most workers are between 18 and 22 and come from rural areas of Tamil Nadu, the head of a women workers’ union said. The monthly pay at the plant is more than a third higher than the minimum wage for such jobs, according to state government guidelines.
MacDailyNews Take: Last December, Apple put supplier Wistron on probation, saying it would not award the Taiwanese contract manufacturer new business until it addressed the way workers were treated at its southern India plant.
The ramp up in India that obviously overwhelmed Wistron seems to have unfortunately also overwhelmed Foxconn and Apple is now taking the appropriate corrective action by putting the supplier on probation. It’s a shame it widespread illnesses for Foxconn and, ultimately, Apple to notice the growing pains and begin to rectify obvious problems like substandard housing and food.
Hopefully, lesson learned – twice now — this won’t happen at any other Apple suppliers in India in the future!
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