July 13, 2024

India investigates hiring practices at Foxconn iPhone factory

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The Indian government has requested a detailed report from Tamil Nadu state following media reports that Apple supplier Foxconn allegedly discriminated against married women in hiring for iPhone assembly jobs. A Reuters investigation revealed that Foxconn’s main iPhone plant near Chennai excluded married women, citing their greater family responsibilities compared to unmarried women.

The federal labor ministry emphasized that the law prohibits any discrimination in the recruitment of men and women workers. Neither Apple nor the Tamil Nadu state government responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The BBC has also sought responses from Foxconn and the Tamil Nadu labor department. Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier, established its first factory in Tamil Nadu in 2017 and has since expanded its operations aggressively in India. In 2023, it began assembling the iPhone 15 in the state and recently partnered with Google to manufacture Pixel smartphones in Tamil Nadu.

Rights activists express concern over the reports about Foxconn’s hiring practices in India, given the significant employment opportunities its factories provide. Reuters’ investigation included interviews with numerous employees and Foxconn hiring agencies. Sources from Foxconn’s HR department and hiring agents cited family duties, pregnancy, and higher absenteeism as reasons for not hiring married women at the plant.

This is not the first time Foxconn has faced scrutiny over its labor practices. In 2018, a US-based rights group accused the company of overworking and underpaying temporary workers at its factory in China, which produced products for Amazon. In 2022, workers at Foxconn’s iPhone factory in China protested, claiming they had not been paid certain dues.

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