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Foxconn to Restart India IPhone Plant Shut by Labor Protests

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(Bloomberg) -- Foxconn Technology Group will gradually resume operations at a plant in India that makes iPhones for Apple Inc., as it begins to address workers’ protests over sub-standard living conditions.

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The Taiwanese company will open the complex in stages as improved dormitories are ready. It’s implemented a system to ensure workers can voice their complaints in future, anonymously if need be, Foxconn said in a statement Monday.

Foxconn shut the factory on the outskirts of Chennai in southern India after workers turned out in force to protest a mass food-poisoning incident, at one point blocking a major highway in mid-December. The episode drew attention to the plight of blue-collar laborers and triggered local government scrutiny. Apple said Monday the plant remains on probation but that workers will begin returning as it ensures standards are met in both dining and living facilities.

Read more: Women Making $4 a Day Could Give Apple an Alternative to China

For Apple, the issue echoes a similar incident in India a year ago, where it placed another iPhone maker, Wistron Corp., on probation following riots over unpaid wages. Foxconn has pledged to revamp its Indian management team and operations in the wake of the Chennai protest, and the Tamil Nadu government said the company had agreed to expand living areas, upgrade bathing facilities and provide drinking water.

Apple’s most important 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 brands.

The Taiwanese company, China’s biggest employer of private labor, began a sweeping reform 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.

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