Yesterday, Apple had placed a Foxconn plant in southern India on probation as a result of poor working conditions. Now, details have surfaced and painted a grim picture of just how bad it was for workers at the iPhone plant.
The plant in question is located in Chennai, India and has now been suspended due to poor working conditions. At the time, it was said that some of the remote employee dormitory accommodations and dining rooms did not meet Apple’s expectations. The extent of what that meant was unclear. However, as reported by Reuters, conditions were as bleak as one could imagine.
Reuters sent journalists down to the plant to interview its workers. It was discovered that women slept on floors within the crowded dorms. Rooms often held six to 30 women, as explained by five workers. The dorms were also said to not have flushable toilets. Additionally, food was said to be crawling with worms, which lead to over 250 workers becoming sick. This lead to a protest that shut down the plant which sees 17,000 employees assemble Apple’s iPhone.
“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.
Government health inspectors also reportedly found rats in the kitchen of the plant. In total, a confirmed 259 employees suffered from food poisoning from one incident within the plant. Of that total, 100 workers were administered to a hospital.
According to Reuters, Foxconn had intentionally hired workers the company deemed were less likely to protest or push for unionization.
Most workers are between 18 and 22 and come from rural areas of Tamil Nadu, the head of a women workers’ union said […]
Several activists and academics said women recruited from farming villages to work in Sriperumbudur’s factories are seen by employers as less likely to unionise or demonstrate, a factor that made the protests at the Foxconn factory – which isn’t unionised – even more notable.
Four different government bodies are now investigating the Foxconn plant. Apple has yet to comment on whether other Foxconn plants are currently being audited to prevent similar situations from happening. Foxconn has stated that it is restructuring the management of its Chennai plant. The company cites that iPhone productions ramped up too quickly and conditions took the hit.