Labor market reforms: Apple wants longer working hours for all of India
Apple is currently doing extensive lobbying to align working conditions in its second most important manufacturing location, India, with those in China. According to a media report, flexibility and working hours in the Indian factories should soon be “on the same level” as in the People’s Republic.
First successes in lobbying
After the iPhone group, together with its local manufacturer, succeeded in getting approval for the 24-hour operation of a planned large factory in two shifts in the southern state of Karnataka, such labor market reforms are to be extended to all of India. This means, among other things, that the daily maximum working time will be increased from the current statutory 9 to 12 hours per employee. The number of overtime hours allowed per quarter will continue to be increased from 75 to 145 hours. You can work a maximum of 48 hours per week.
As the financial news agency Bloomberg reports, Apple and Foxconn are using regional governments as leverage. They are trying to win as many of the two partners’ production sites as possible, especially for the iPhone, but also for Macs, iPads and Apple accessories. In the state of Tamil Nadu, where the largest Indian factory for Apple smartphones is currently located, labor market reforms are currently being considered that should lead to “more flexibility” that Apple wants.
“Level of China” aimed for
Apple managers are working in Tamil Nadu together with the “Indian Cellular and Electronics Association” (ICEA), which includes the iPhone manufacturer as well as the manufacturing partners Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron. According to Bloomberg, the lobbying work has been going on for six months. According to sources informed, the working hours on site would bring to the level of iPhone factories in China, it said. Apple’s efforts are being met by an Indian federal government that is trying to bring more and more manufacturing into the country with its “Make in India” program. The project reports directly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on several occasions. Manufacturers like Foxconn are attracted with financial incentives and comparatively low wages.
“India wants global brands like Apple to make the country a hub for manufacturing, research and development,” Deputy Technology Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Bloomberg. The federal government is working closely with the states to develop competitive policies in the areas of work, logistics and infrastructure.” One hopes that entire supply chains will be relocated to India. Labor law reforms are actually rare in the country – and there are often protests by workers accompanied. However, nothing has been heard of this (yet).
More women in work
According to the ICEA, the increase in working hours should also serve to get more women into work. A “significant part” of the 60,000 employees at Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron in India is said to be female. With a change in the shift system, the risk associated with the use of night buses is reduced, it said. Apple and its manufacturers also want to set up “women’s hostels” near their factories, similar to the workers’ hostels at Foxconn and Co. in China.
“In electronics manufacturing, women are a natural fit because of the hygienic environment and the tasks in the plants,” says an ICEA paper. According to the lobby organization, women are also particularly well suited to the high-precision assembly of electronics because of their “dexterity with their hands”.