Apple puts India iPhone maker Foxconn on probation for labour violations

Apple Inc. put Foxconn Technology Group’s factory in southern India on probation following worker protests and an investigation that revealed substandard living conditions.

Foxconn, which uses the facility to assemble iPhones among other gadgets, apologized for the lapses in health standards and pledged to revamp its management and operations in the country. The factory, located in Sriperumbudur on the outskirts of Chennai, was shut down after the protests and will resume operations once “necessary improvements” are made.

Apple’s key assembly partner has grappled with labor issues in the past, particularly in China, where it makes most of the world’s iPhones among other devices from laptops to tablets and gaming consoles for major global brands. The Taiwanese company, China’s biggest employer of private labor, began a sweeping revamp of its operations after a spate of suicides in 2010 exposed harsh living and working conditions for the hundreds of thousands of migrants it employs to put together gadgets for foreign corporations.

“Following recent concerns about food safety and accommodation conditions at Foxconn Sriperumbudur, we dispatched independent auditors,” an Apple spokesperson said. “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.”

Foxconn is restructuring its local management team and systems and will continue paying all employees during the downtime, the company said without elaborating. The Tamil Nadu government said on Saturday that Foxconn had agreed to expand living areas, upgrade bathing facilities and provide drinking water, acceding to employees’ demands, and will resume operations soon.

“We are very sorry for the issue our employees experienced and are taking immediate steps to enhance the facilities and services we provide,” the Taiwanese gadget maker said in a texted statement.

For Apple, the issue echoes a similar incident in India a year ago, where it placed another iPhone maker, Wistron Corp., on probation following worker riots over unpaid wages. Foxconn’s Sriperumbudur facility will remain on probation until Apple is satisfied its standards have been met, the Cupertino, California company said. Foxconn did not specify when it intends to reopen the plant.

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