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By Sudarshan Varadhan
CHENNAI (Reuters) -Apple Inc supplier Foxconn restarted production at its plant in southern India on Wednesday, a company official said, over three weeks after it was closed because of protests over workers falling sick.
The company official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the factory reopened with one shift and 120 workers, adding it would take over two months for the plant to produce at full capacity.
The plant, in the town of Sriperumbudur near the Tamil Nadu state capital of Chennai, employs about 17,000 people but was closed on Dec. 18 after 250 workers fell sick with food poisoning, sparking protests. Workers previously told Reuters the plant generally operates three shifts.
Apple declined to comment on Wednesday, but had said on Monday the plant remained on probation, and that it would continue monitoring conditions at workers' dormitories and dining halls, along with independent auditors.
Foxconn did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Apple and Foxconn had previously found some worker dormitories and dining rooms did not meet required standards, forcing the Taiwan-based company to restructure its local management team and take immediate steps to improve facilities.
Women who assembled iPhones at the southern Indian Foxconn plant told Reuters they lived in crowded dorms without flush toilets and food served at worker hostels sometimes crawled with worms.
The factory, which has started trial production of the iPhone 13, is strategically important in the long term as the U.S. tech giant tries to cut its reliance on its Chinese supply chain amid trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
(Reporting by Sudarshan VaradhanEditing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)