Foxconn will be allowed to resume operations in a phased manner at its facility manufacturing Apple’s iPhones with the Tamil Nadu government granting permission to house workers in two of the 17 hostels the Taiwanese company operates, a state government official told.
The factory situated in Sriperumbudur on the outskirts of Chennai can restart operations in the next two weeks as “we have issued permission for two of Foxconn’s hostels to begin functioning. Each hostel can house around 500 employees”.
“The total workforce at the plant is around 17,000, of this, around 12,000 workers stay at the hostels on the premises,” the person added.
The development comes in the wake of the unit being shuttered in December 2021 when over 150 employees were hospitalised following a bout of food poisoning in a company hostel.
Plant Expected to Reopen on Jan 12.
Protesting employees had complained of unhygienic conditions in the hostels leading to Apple placing the unit under probation.
Tamil Nadu industries minister Thangam Thennarasu said, “As far as we know, there were very basic amenities provided and that had resulted in this incident (food poisoning).”
The state government has now instructed “Foxconn to look into the matter directly and see to it that the facilities are made available to the inmates”, he added while confirming that Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin told the state assembly on Friday that Foxconn had agreed to reopen the plant on January 12.
State officials said the Foxconn unit will have to slowly increase the workforce at the plant as and when the government and its various departments authorise the opening of more hostels.
“They (Foxconn) are working hard to get the clearance and will be able to get clearances for all the hostels within a month’s time,” said one person cited above, who added that “the workers too are keen to begin work again based on our interactions with them”.
Email queries to Apple and Foxconn were not answered until press time.
Foxconn and the Kolar-based Wistron are the two Taiwanese contract-manufacturing partners for Apple in India. The units reportedly manufacture around 70% of the company’s mobile phones, in value terms, for the Indian market.
Last year, the Wistron facility in Karnataka had also come under fire and was kept on probation following protests by workers alleging non-payment of salaries and overtime wages.
Referring to the working conditions at the plant in Sriperumbudur, the state industries minister said, “The main problem was the quality of the food while too many people were also accommodated in rooms. These were the basic concerns that these employees had.”
He said the state government had made plain to Foxconn that “these issues have to be addressed in sincerity”.