Apple has decided to investigate an iPhone plant in India after harsh conditions led workers to strike. According to reports, the women staff was working in terrible circumstances. They shared dirty toilets with no flush and were forced to sleep on the floor in jam-packed halls. A food poisoning outbreak also sent 150 workers to the hospital. Employees finally went on strike and shut down the facility on 18th December. Foxconn, Apple’s longtime partner, operated the plant in Sriperumbudur. It has over 17,000 employees.
iPhone Plant in India on Probation
The devastating reports raised concerns about accommodation conditions and food safety at the iPhone plant in India. The tech giant responded that it dispatched independent auditors and found that some isolated dormitories and dining halls did not meet employee safety requirements. It added that they were working with the supplier to take corrective actions as soon as possible.
Foxconn also apologized for poor conditions and reportedly agreed to upgrade its amenities. Some corrective measures would include accommodation expansion, fixing toilets, and making water available for drinking. It is also said to resume the operations soon after the upgrade is complete. On the other hand, Apple said that it had put the plant on “probation” till then. However, it did not explain what the disaster meant for Foxconn or iPhone assemblers.
Apple Facing the Double Pressure
The story shows how Apple is increasingly facing difficulty after deciding to move iPhone production from China. There have been many reports regarding the tech giant asking its suppliers to shift their facilities to other countries like Vietnam and India in recent years. Foxconn was also Taiwan-based and operated an iPhone plant in India. Apple has long faced criticism in the US for outsourcing its manufacturing jobs in China. And, on the other hand, it has been facing pressure to comply with China’s demands regarding censorship and data access. It is because many different parties can have leverage over Apple if it stops production in China, which would not be acceptable for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Reliance on Chinese Suppliers
Recent reports have also revealed that Apple has started to depend on Chinese suppliers again. The tech giant shifted all orders from Foxconn’s iPhone plant in India to Luxshare because of the 275 billion USD China deal. Critics said that China supplier Luxshare has a way larger market capitalization than Foxconn and is slated to replace Foxconn as Apple prime supplier. The big money deal between China and the tech giant has widely been seen as a way for Apple to gain favour with China rather than just cutting costs.
The alliance with China is critical for Apple as its market represents about 20% of Apple’s revenue. It is also an unfavourable market because many Chinese consumers often boycott Apple products due to favouring local brands.