New Delhi: Lobbying by Taiwanese firm Foxconn, that manufactures Apple phones, led to major changes in labour laws by the BJP state government in Karnataka, reports Financial Times. Successful lobbying by the foreign firm means two-shift production can take place in the state, similar to the firm’s practices in China, its main manufacturing base.
The Karnataka state legislative assembly on March 1 passed a labour law that permits 12-hour-shift production and allows women to work at night. Among other changes, it increased a worker’s legitimate working hours in a day from nine to 12 for four consecutive days before taking three days off. Allowable overtime hours were increased from 75 to 145 over a three-month period, but maximum working hours were capped at 48 per week. In addition, the law allows women to work between 7 pm and 6 am, subject to certain safety measures that employers must implement, such as transport facilities equipped with CCTV and GPS.
While the new legislation is expected to encourage more international firms to establish manufacturing bases in Karnataka, previous labour unrest at the Wistron facility in Kolar revealed that violations of labour law regulations had driven employees to strike employment. According to a government investigation report, the employees were not paid according to their working hours.
As per the newspaper, Karnataka had amended its labour law after “a lot of inputs” from Indian industry lobby groups and foreign companies, including Foxconn and Apple. There was no mention if any labour groups or trade unions were consulted before making these changes.
Foxconn, which currently makes iPhones at a plant in Tamil Nadu, has been associated with new units in Karnataka and Telangana by the two state governments. The electronics and IT minister, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, announced that Apple phones would be manufactured in a new 300-acre factory in Karnataka. However, the company denied that it has made any firm commitments or final plans to manufacture Apple devices in these states.
Apple’s proposal to expand its operations to India comes against the backdrop of supply disruptions caused by massive labour protests at Foxconn’s largest factory in Zhengzhou, China. The protests were sparked by issues such as delayed bonus payments, poor working conditions and shortages of food supply.
Apple iPhones are also assembled in India at plants operated by rival Taiwanese contract manufacturers Pegatron and Wistron.