In response to worker protests over food safety and squalid living conditions, in December 2021 Apple placed the Foxconn plant — located in the state of Tamil Nadu — on probation. More than 250 female employees were treated for food poisoning on December 15 and over 150 were hospitalized. Two days later, more than 2,000 workers turned out in protest against the incident. Apple responded to the demonstrations by dispatching independent auditors to the iPhone factory and subsequently halting operations.
“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 said.
Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer, is one of Apple’s largest suppliers globally. Its Indian plant plays a central role in Apple’s efforts to shift production away from China. The December 2021 incident was hardly the first of Foxconn’s run-ins with worker protests—in 2010, Shenzhen’s “Foxconn City” saw a series of worker suicides in response to dismally low wages.
Under scrutiny from both Apple and the Tamil Nadu state government, Foxconn has pledged to improve its facilities and revamp its local management team. On January 12, the plant reopened after three weeks of closures—but concerns about the manufacturer’s treatment of workers remain.
By: Chloe Bao