Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hundreds of Foxconn workers arrested in India

Foxconn is a company that manufactures batteries for Nokia and if the name rings a bell there’s a reason. The company recently came to international attention because of a spate of suicides in its Chinese factories. That debacle found the company making various hallow promises and “pushing workers to sign a non-suicide “pledge.”” Sorted.

Foxconn employs around 2,500 people in India, specifically in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, and their record there is no happier than that in China. In last month's report “changing industrial relations in India’s mobile phone industry,”Good Electronics revealed a catalogue of anti-worker problems.

On page 28 of the pdf we see that Foxconn is paying less than the minimum wage, hiring workers as apprentices then sacking them when they finish their training period, and, as Supply Management point out workers are being kept in the dark about their rights.

Far more damning is the strategic anti-union approach of the company. For example Foxconn sends agents out to hire workers from far off regions, many of which it houses in its ‘hostels’ rather than hire local labour which it deems to be at risk of militancy. Where local labour is hired they are given the hardest most dangerous jobs in order to keep the level of local workers down.

Workers are consistently bullied, unable to refuse overtime or claim their statutory leave.

In summary that well known Trotskyite news source Good Electronics states that "The overall policy of Foxconn shows a preference for temporary workers, to deny right to association and to avoid collective bargaining agreements. Management practices of the company are in line with the strategy of the group of Nokia’s suppliers, creating a vulnerable workforce without the capacity to bargain for their rights."

In the face of these problems the left locally have been working together to put pressure on the government and the employers to ensure workers rights are met. An initial strike on September 23rd of factory workers resulted in a thousand arrests and the sacking of 23 workers at the plant.

This escalation resulted in an 18 day occupation, from September 27th, of over one thousand of Foxconn’s workforce demanding their colleagues’ reinstatement, an increase in wages and union recognition for Foxconn India Thozilalar Sangam (FITS). On Sunday the police raided the factory in the middle of the night and "locked up 320 Foxconn India workers along with CITU state secretary A. Soundarajan and its Kanchipuram district secretary E. Muthukumar in Vellore prison”

The most up to date news reports seem to indicate that they are still being held in prison. You can sign a petition to support them here.



How much could the Foxconn workers hope to earn if they didn't work for Foxconn?

Jim Jepps said...

The legal minimum wage would be a start, and the legal minimum holiday entitlement would be good too. The Indian authorities need to enforce their own laws.

As you can see from the report though this is not just about wages.

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You have my support - please see my blog.