In an effort to attract iPhone assembly from China, regional governments in India have responded positively to Apple’s request for changes in the country’s labour laws to enhance local production. Apple is actively lobbying for these changes.
The largest iPhone production facility in India is run by Foxconn Technology Group, which is Apple’s primary supplier. This factory is located in the state of Tamil Nadu where officials are apparently contemplating changes to labour regulations that would bring factory shifts in line with working hours in China. Discussions regarding these potential reforms have been ongoing between Apple, the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (which represents US suppliers such as Pegatron and Wistron), and state officials for more than six months.
India’s willingness to become a major electronics manufacturing centre is underscored by the rarity of the proposed reforms. If implemented, these changes would align local working hours in India’s factories with those in China’s iPhone facilities by replacing the existing three eight-hour shifts with two 12-hour shifts.
The local authorities are keen to lure Apple’s investment and employment opportunities, and the proposed modifications could potentially encourage more women to work in factories by ensuring safer working hours and eliminating the need for night commuting. To reduce travel time, Apple and its suppliers are reportedly contemplating the construction of large hostels for female workers near the factory complexes.
By implementing these changes, the goal is to move a larger proportion of production from China to other countries such as India. The lower cost of labour and various financial incentives have already enticed major suppliers like Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron to expand their investments in India.
According to the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association, the proposed modifications are long overdue and in keeping with the objectives of the Make in India initiative. Recently, the state of Karnataka passed new legislation enabling labour rule adjustments, paving the way for more factories to adopt similar measures. Wistron has already set up an iPhone manufacturing facility in Karnataka, and Foxconn is also planning to invest $700 million in establishing a new facility in the region.
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