New Delhi: For women who assembled iPhones at a Foxconn plant in southern India, crowded dorms without flush toilets and food sometimes crawling with worms were problems to be endured for the paycheck.
But when tainted food sickened over 250 of the workers their anger boiled over, culminating in a rare protest that shut down a plant where 17,000 had been working.
A close look by Reuters at the events before and after the Dec. 17 protest casts a stark light on living and working conditions at Foxconn, a firm central to Apple’s supply chain. The tumult comes at a time when Apple is ramping up production of its iPhone 13 and shareholders are pushing the company to provide greater transparency about labour conditions at suppliers. Reuters spoke to six women who worked at the Foxconn plant near Chennai. All of them requested they not to be named because of fear of retaliation on the job or from police. Workers slept on the floor in rooms, which housed between six to 30 women, five of these workers said. Two workers said the hostel they lived in had toilets without running water.
“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.