India’s largest iPhone assembly plant, a plant owned by Foxconn, has ceased production at Apple’s behest. Reuters Reports that both Apple and Foxconn have found that some worker accommodations and restaurants “do not meet the required standards.” The exact nature of the work’s trial period has not been disclosed to the public, although it is expected to be temporary.
Foxconn’s Chennai factory faced numerous workforce issues this year, including widespread food poisoning that affected more than 250 women. At least 150 of these women have been hospitalized.
However, the set up problems go even deeper than improperly prepared meals. Workers took to the streets after the food poisoning to protest the working conditions at the facility. Almost 100 employees were arrested by law enforcement for blocking a highway in the area.
Restructuring or whatever – Foxconn is committed to improving working conditions in the factory, but as little as possible. A Foxconn spokesman said the company will “restructure” its local management team and take immediate steps to improve facilities. Whether the latter simply means finding better chefs for the kitchen remains to be seen.
The spokesman also said the employees will be paid during their enforced time off, which began on December 18. It is unclear whether or not these employees were allowed to stay in their Foxconn dormitories during this time.
Controversies in the supply chain – The impact of this trial period on iPhone product production is likely to be minimal. The impact on the factory workers is more pressing. Apple now says it is sending independent reviewers to ensure conditions are improved before the site reopens.
This isn’t the first time Apple has seen such controversy in its supply chain. Last year, for example, it was found that Apple’s main glass supplier was using Uyghur slave labor in its factories. Meanwhile, lobbyists hired by Apple have pushed for weaker protection of foreign labor practices. And yes, even Apple Another Indian facility was suspended last year.
At this point, it is evident that the oversight that Apple provides on suppliers is not enough. That the Chennai plant was not up to the company’s standards should have been discovered long before the boiling point.
But then again, Apple can’t even handle keeping its working conditions in check here in the US. Maybe it’s just too much to ask for oversight overseas.