Apple Supplier In Trouble, Mass Food Poisoning Near Chennai

Chennai: Apple Inc’s plant supplier Foxconn in India, after the facility reported mass food-poisoning at its offsite dormitory facility in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur, which sparked protests by workers, said it has put on “probation.”

The iPhone maker’s supplier, in a statement, said it is restructuring the local management team and systems to ensure it can maintain high standards at its facility in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur.

Some 250 women working at the Foxconn factory near Chennai were treated for food poisoning this month, 159 of whom were hospitalised. This prompted protests against living conditions at company hostels.

Foxconn 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.”

“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.

It said all employees will continue to be paid while improvements are made before restarting operations. “Foxconn’s Sriperumbudur facility has been placed on probation and we will ensure our strict standards are met before the facility reopens. We will continue to monitor conditions closely,” the Apple spokesperson said.

After concerns about food safety and accommodation were raised at the Tamil Nadu facility, Apple had dispatched independent auditors to make detailed assessments.

The factory employs some 17,000 people. It makes iPhones for the Indian market and for export, as well as other gadgets.

While the plant was widely expected to open around New Year, Apple’s latest move to put Foxconn facility on probation could mean some delay in resumption of operations, say market watchers.

There is no word from Foxconn yet on when operations at the unit would resume. The facility has been closed since December 18 when protests started.

Apple has long faced criticism about the treatment of workers at its partner factories in China, particularly after a spate of suicides at the industrial park of Foxconn in Shenzhen in 2010.

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