India: Provide better facilities for workers, Tamil Nadu govt tells iPhone assembly unit Foxconn, Business & Economy News

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The Tamil Nadu government has formally requested the local unit of Taiwanese hardware manufacturing firm Foxconn, to provide better basic amenities for its workers. Among the facilities enlisted as part of the suggestions were – better hostels, spacious living areas, adequate bathrooms and toilets, potable water, living spaces with proper ventilation and overall improved infrastructure in hostels/dormitories. 

This comes nearly a week after hundreds of Foxconn workers protested and blocked the crucial Chennai-Bengaluru highway, as over 150 women workers had fallen sick after consuming the food provided in the hostels. 

According to the protestors, there were long-standing issues between the management and the contractual workers, which the management allegedly refused to address or resolve. Among the issues highlighted were the basic living facilities, better working conditions, hygienic food and water etc.

According to the government, they are keen on bringing investments and job opportunities to the state, but are also keen on voicing out for the welfare of workers (especially women). In line with this, top government officials, including IAS and IPS officers had met with representatives of Foxconn on Thursday and offered suggestions. 

Among the points highlighted to the company were, District Collector’s certificate of approval for the living spaces provided to workers, provision of hygienic meals that are cooked within the premises of the hostel, ensuring timely approval of emergency leave for contractual workers and also utilising services of manpower agencies for seeking replacement/backup workforce to make up for those absent. 

According to the government, the company had agreed to implement the suggestions and has also expressed its intention to expand its operations and offer more job opportunities. 

Nearly 14,000 men and women are employed in the Foxconn unit that manufactures electronic components, iPhones for Apple and handsets for other leading smartphone brands.

Many of the women workers are staying in the nearby dormitories. It was after consuming their meals from one such dormitory that over 150 workers were affected by food poisoning and had to be taken to nearby hospitals for treatment. 

According to workers, the management did not offer any response when queried about the health condition of women workers who were admitted to the hospital. 

There were also rumours of a few women workers having died, owing to food poisoning. This is said to have been a major trigger for the protest. However, the government authorities formally dismissed the claims of workers having died and assured action against rumour mongers.

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