• Thursday, July 25, 2024


Foxconn denying married women jobs? India government alert over report

The labour ministry sought reports from the authorities in the southern state of Tamil Nadu where the alleged discrimination happened and also from a top labour official.

Representational Image (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA’S Narendra Modi government earlier this week instructed the administration of the southern state of Tamil Nadu to furnish a “detailed report” after a recent Reuters story said Foxconn, an Apple supplier, refused to take married women for iPhone assembly roles in the country.

Seeking a probe in a statement, India’s ministry of labour and employment cited the country’s Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, highlighting that the law “clearly stipulates that no discrimination (is) to be made while recruiting men and women workers”.

According to the ministry, it has sought a comprehensive report from Tamil Nadu’s labour department. The southern state is home to a big iPhone factory where Reuters found Foxconn’s practice of denying employment opportunities to married women. The ministry also said that it has asked the office of the regional chief labour commissioner to submit a “factual report.”

Read: Google teams up with Foxconn to manufacture Pixel phones in India: report

On Tuesday (25), a Reuters investigation found Foxconn systematically excluding married women from jobs at its main India iPhone factory near Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, because they have more responsibilities on their home front compared to the unmarried ones.

When Reuters spoke with Foxconn’s hiring agents and people in human resources, they cited family duties, pregnancy and higher absenteeism as reasons why the company did not rope in married women at the factory.

Read: Foxconn CEO Young Liu gets Padma Bhushan, India’s top civilian award

The labour ministry “takes note of media reports on married women not being allowed to work at Foxconn India Apple iPhone plant,” the statement added.

Previously, in response to inquiries from Reuters for its report on Tuesday, Apple and Foxconn admitted to shortcomings in hiring practices in 2022 and stated they had taken steps to rectify them.

However, all instances of discriminatory practices documented by Reuters at Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur plant occurred in 2023 and 2024. The two companies did not address incidents from those two years, the report added.

Apple said “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”.

It added that all its suppliers, including Foxconn, hire married women.

Foxconn said it “vigorously refutes allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status, gender, religion or any other form”.

Legal experts told Reuters that while laws in India don’t stop companies from discriminating in hiring based on marital status, Apple’s and Foxconn’s policies prohibit such hiring practices in their supply chains.

(With Reuters inputs)

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