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India’s opposition urges Modi government to investigate Foxconn’s hiring practices

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jul 1, 2024

India’s opposition urges Modi government to investigate Foxconn’s hiring practices

NEW DELHI – India’s opposition Congress party has called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to scrutinize Foxconn‘s hiring practices following a Reuters report that revealed the Apple supplier excludes married women from iPhone assembly jobs in the country.

The government has requested a comprehensive report from the state of Tamil Nadu, where a major iPhone factory is located and where the controversial hiring practices were uncovered. This revelation has ignited widespread debates on television channels, newspaper editorials, and among women’s groups, including factions within Modi’s own party, all demanding an investigation into the matter.

In a letter addressed to Labour Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Congress lawmaker Karti P. Chidambaram emphasized the substantial incentives that Foxconn receives from the federal government. He insisted that the company be asked to explain its practices to ensure compliance with Indian laws and cultural values.

“While foreign investment is crucial, it should not come at the cost of disregarding our cultural values,” Chidambaram stated in his letter, which he also posted on social media platform X.

Responses from Apple, Taiwan-based Foxconn, and the ministry were not immediately available when requests for comments were made concerning the Congress letter.

The Reuters investigation discovered that Foxconn systematically excluded married women from employment at its primary iPhone manufacturing plant in India, arguing that they have more family responsibilities compared to their unmarried counterparts. Hiring agents and HR sources from Foxconn cited family duties, pregnancy, and higher absenteeism as reasons for not employing married women.

In response to the investigation, published on Tuesday, Apple and Foxconn acknowledged lapses in hiring practices in 2022 and claimed they had worked to address these issues. However, the discriminatory practices documented by Reuters at the Sriperumbudur plant occurred in 2023 and 2024.

Foxconn firmly denied the allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status, gender, religion, or any other form. The company stated, “Foxconn vigorously refutes allegations of employment discrimination.”

Apple reiterated that all its suppliers, including Foxconn, hire married women and stated, “When concerns about hiring practices were first raised in 2022, we immediately took action and worked with our supplier to conduct monthly audits to identify issues and ensure that our high standards are upheld.”

AspectIndia (Foxconn)China (Foxconn)
Monthly Pay$200$400 – $800
AccommodationProvidedNot mentioned
FoodProvidedNot mentioned
Marital Status RequirementYesNo
Gender RequirementYesNo

Six online job ads reviewed by Reuters indicated that workers involved in iPhone assembly at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou plant in China earn between $400 to $800 a month. These ads did not specify any requirements related to marital status or gender.

Vasuki Umanath of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), another opponent of Modi, questioned the disparity between Foxconn’s practices in India and China, stating, “While they don’t discriminate in China, can they do whatever in India?”

“Labour unions, women’s welfare organizations, and democratic forces should raise their voice against this discrimination,” Umanath added.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation party also condemned Foxconn’s practices, asserting that action must be taken against what it described as “exploitative and discriminatory hiring practices.”

  • Congress Party’s Stand: Urged the government to question Foxconn about its hiring practices.
  • Government Action: Requested a detailed report from Tamil Nadu.
  • Political Reactions: Significant opposition from various political and social groups.
  • Company Responses: Apple and Foxconn acknowledged past lapses but denied ongoing discriminatory practices.
  • Comparison with China: Different hiring practices and compensation between India and China.

This issue continues to generate significant public and political interest, and further developments are expected as the government reviews the practices of Foxconn and ensures compliance with Indian laws and values.

Featured Image courtesy of The New Arab

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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