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Apple and Foxconn have been engaging in lobbying efforts with the Karnataka government aimed at relaxing India’s strict labour laws, as per a report by Financial Times.
The new regulations will permit longer working hours, with 12-hour shifts now permitted instead of the previous limit of nine hours. Additionally, there is also relaxation of the rules for night-time work for women, who, according to the report, “dominate electronics production lines in China, Taiwan and Vietnam but are under-represented in India’s workforce.”
Although the legislation caps maximum working hours at 48 per week, the number of allowable overtime hours is increased to 145 over a three-month period from the previous cap of 75.
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The renewed labour reforms means two-shift production can take place in India, similar to the two companies’ practice in China. Liberalising labour laws is a greater effort to increase the margin on efficiency by increasing the work output so that it is comparable to some of the other countries. This is how India can be an alternative to China in the eyes of Apple.
“This is something we and the customer [Apple] have been pursuing. It is an adjustment that’s crucial for building efficient manufacturing here at scale,” a person close to Foxconn told FT.
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Last week, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekar confirmed that there will be a new 300-acre facility in Karnataka, to build Apple iPhones. 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.
Like India, like China
India’s semiconductor mission – more like India’s sweatshop mission – is on-track and has been subliminally leading to some grave reality. There is of course the revision of labour laws. Then, there are also environmental concerns over who will bear the cost of accumulating semiconductor waste.
Also Read: India: A Dumping Ground for Global Semiconductor Waste?
India’s call for companies to manufacture in India may as well be a call to dump waste, and exploit labour in the name of the free market.