Foxconn finally reopens its India plant - But with less than 500 workers

Foxconn unit that manufactures iPhones
(Image credit: Foxconn)

The beleaguered Apple assembler in India Foxconn’s plant at Sriperumbudur reopened today with around 300 employees returning to work. 

Sources close to the company said that they expected the work force to return in full in around two weeks time. The plant employs around 15,000 workers, many of them on non-contracted temporary basis.

The plant had been shut from December 18 as a result of workers unrest over the quality of food served at their dormitories.  Many of them had to be hospitalised and that resulted in the employees hitting the streets in protest and the company shuttering the plant that manufactures iPhones.

The plant has orders to manufacture the latest iPhone 13.

Workers undergo Covid test

This morning the workers who turned up for the shift were all put through Covid test. "A total of 345 workers have returned to work, out of which 166 have undergone Covid tests and have begun work at the plant. The remaining will get their test reports on Wednesday," a news report said.

The reopening of the plant has taken time as the company management held talks with the workers and the State government. In the meantime, Apple auditors also put the company on probation. Apple has not officially lifted its notice. Sources say that it is monitoring the situation closely and its official response will be based on ground realities over the next few weeks.

Foxconn has already announced that it would upgrade the dormitories and the dining rooms. "We have been working on a series of improvements to fix issues we found at the off-site dormitory facilities at Sriperumbudur and to enhance services we provide to our employees. We have implemented a range of corrective actions to ensure that this cannot happen again, and a rigorous monitoring system to ensure workers can raise any concerns," it said in a statement on Monday.

“We will gradually begin to welcome back team members as each offsite dormitory becomes ready and is approved. We continue to support our employees and thank them for their patience as we work through the improvements,” it added.

The Sriperumbudur plant of Foxconn currently rolls out iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and iPhone 12 models. Foxconn also has an unit in nearby Andhra Pradesh.

Foxconn has invested an additional $350 million in the unit to help build an exclusive production line for Apple iPhone 13. The production has already gotten into trial stage, while commercial production is likely to begin in February. The new investment is part of Foxconn's long-term development in India.

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Balakumar K
Senior Editor

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.