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iPhone maker facing scrutiny in India over hiring practices

Apple contractor Foxconn is being questioned over allegations of discrimination against married women at its assembly plant

Foxconn, an Apple contractor that manufactures iPhones in India, is facing scrutiny over allegations of discrimination against married women in its hiring practices at its assembly plant in Tamil Nadu.

The federal government has requested a report from the state authorities on allegations that married women were excluded from jobs at the factory because they were seen to have “more responsibilities than their unmarried counterparts,” according to Reuters.

The company allegedly considered that there were “many issues post-marriage,” including childbirth, according to S. Paul, a former human resource executive at Foxconn India, who was quoted by the agency. His account was reportedly corroborated by 17 employees from several Foxconn hiring agencies in India. Some of them even claimed that the company saw jewelry worn by married Hindu women as interfering with production.

However, Foxconn reportedly relaxed the policy of not hiring married women during high-production periods when faced with labor shortages, three former HR executives told Reuters.

PTI news agency reported on Thursday that India’s federal labor ministry reacted to the developments outlined by Reuters, and requested a detailed report from the state’s labor department “to verify the allegations.” India’s Equal Remuneration Act 1976 prohibits discrimination and seeks to provide “payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers.”

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Meanwhile, Foxconn has informed the government that 25% of its new hires are married women, PTI reported, citing unnamed sources. The company has reportedly sent an informal note to the government, stating that “such stipulations are not part of its policy,” and that “these claims may have been made by those individuals who were not hired.”

The Foxconn plant in Tamil Nadu has the highest number of Indian women workers (45,000 during peak periods), according to the firm. Foxconn has also denied claims of discrimination against married Hindu women wearing jewelry. It described the allegations as “entirely slanted” and explained that wearing metal in its factories was a “safety issue.”

Over the years, Foxconn has been involved in several controversies relating to employee grievances. The company has been accused of using underage labor at its factories in China. In 2022, workers at China’s Zhengzhou – the world’s largest iPhone production site – staged violent protests over pay and working conditions.

READ MORE: Apple to expand production in India – Bloomberg

Meanwhile, the Taiwan-headquartered Foxconn has revealed plans to build around 78,000 homes for its workers in India. Last year, the company pledged to invest $1.5 billion in the project to build nearly 35,000 housing units for workers at its factory in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.

Although most iPhones are still made in China, Apple has been trying to manufacture more of its flagship models in India, which is a key emerging market for the brand. According to reports, Apple is laying the groundwork to begin manufacturing around 50 million phones in India each year to “diversify” its supply chain.

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June 27, 2024 at 05:27PM

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