The problems faced by women at Foxconn’s Foxconn plant, which assembles iPhones in South India, include non-flush toilets, overcrowded dormitories and at times food worms. His anger increased when 250 workers became ill due to contaminated food. The result of the protest was that this plant with 17000 workers was closed. A closer look by Reuters on the events before and after the December 17 protests sheds light on the living and working conditions at Foxconn.
Reuters spoke to six women working at the Foxconn plant near Chennai. Fearing job loss and police action, all of them requested not to write their names.
Five of them said that she slept on the floor in rooms where there were 6 to 30 women in a room. Two workers told that the hostel where she lived had toilets without water.
A 21-year-old female worker who left the plant after protests told Reuters that people living in hostels always had some disease. There were problems like skin allergies, chest pain, food poisoning. He told that initially one or two workers got food poisoning. Then we didn’t take him seriously. Thought it would be fixed. But now it has made many people sick.
Apple and Foxconn have found that some of the dormitories and dining rooms used for workers at the plant do not meet the required standards. Apple said in a statement that the facility has been placed on probation. Apple will ensure the standards are met before the plant restarts.
Foxconn’s contractor Venpa Venpa Staffing Services, which runs the dormitories, declined to comment on the matter. Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu told Reuters that four state agencies are investigating the food poisoning and subsequent protests. Senior government officials have said that they have asked Foxconn to improve the situation. This is Foxconn’s responsibility.
Apple and Foxconn have not said in their statement when the plant will open. A senior official from the state’s industry department told Reuters Foxconn had talked about ramping up production. However, production was cut during the second wave of Kovid. Foxconn opened the plant in 2019 with a promise to create 25,000 jobs.
After the protest of the workers, the Food Safety Inspectors visited the hostels where the case of food poisoning had come. Jagadish Chandra Bose, a senior food safety officer in Tiruvallur district, told Reuters that sample tests showed he did not meet safety standards. He said the women working at the Foxconn plant earn around $140 (about Rs 10,500) a month and pay the Foxconn contractor for accommodation and food. The head of a women workers union said most of the workers are between 18 and 22 and come from rural areas of Tamil Nadu.