Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn were industry lobby groups behind the new labour law in Karnataka that allow industries to extend working hours for labour up to 12 hours, reported the Financial Times (FT). On February 23, the Karnataka legislature passed the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2023 which allows overtime to extend from 75 hours in three months to 145 hours and also allows women to work night shifts with adequate security.
The official told FT that Karnataka had amended its labour law after “a lot of inputs” from Indian industry lobby groups and foreign companies, including Foxconn and Apple.
The report citing three people familiar with the matter said that successful lobbying for the new laws by the companies means two-shift production can take place in India, which is similar to the two companies’ practices in China.
The report comes a week after the Karnataka government said that Apple Inc’s iPhones would soon be assembled in the state and that a total of 300 acres have been set aside for a factory. However, Foxconn has not confirmed any factory plans.
An Indian government official told FT, “India is due to become the next big manufacturing hub…When we compare India with other countries . . . we have to increase by a big margin our efficiency in terms of increasing the work output.”
A person close to Foxconn, referring to Apple told FT, “This is something we and the customer have been pursuing…It is an adjustment that’s crucial for building efficient manufacturing here at scale.”
“Being able to run production with two 12-hour shifts around the clock would be a big step to bring us closer to where we need to be,” the person said.
Foxconn currently makes iPhones at a plant in Tamil Nadu state and has spoken of expanding its operations in Karnataka and the neighboring state of Telangana. Apple also has its iPhones assembled in India at plants operated by rival Taiwanese contract manufacturers Pegatron and Wistron.
According to a report by Indian Express (IE), the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed without a debate in the Legislative Assembly. It was opposed by Congress, JDS, and even a member of the BJP, in the Legislative Council when the law was passed on February 24 amid a walkout.
IT and BT Minister Dr. C N Ashwathnarayan said, “Now, the rule is that workers should work for 48 hours and the aim is to reduce work from six days a week to four or five and in a total week, the work still remains at 48 hours. In the case of those working for 10 hours a day, the workers will work for five days a week and those who work for eight hours a day will work for six days a week.”
“At present, 75 hours of overtime is allowed in a period of three months. We want to enhance the overtime hours to 145 hours. We also want women to work night shifts, from 7 pm in the evening to 6 am in the morning,” the minister said
“India is in competition with places all around the world to attract investments. Only when you have flexible labour laws, investments can be attracted. China is a manufacturing base today and is part of the global supply chain along with South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan,” he further added.