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15 Mär 2024

India: Foxconn's 'dormitory labour regime' in iPhone factory creates abusive working & living conditions for women migrant workers

In March 2024, Scroll published an article alleging internal women migrant workers from Tamil Nadu assembling Apple’s iPhones in a Foxconn factory in Sriperumbudur, Chennai, experience exploitative working and living conditions.

The article particularly outlines the abuses linked to Foxconn’s ‘dormitory labour regime’, which it says is a model it uses in China and is now ‘replicating in India’. Studies have outlined how the dormitory labour regime enables factories to have access to “labour supply on tab”, including through overtime during times of high demand.

The article notes the housing in the Foxconn factory in Sriperumbudur is run by an outsourced agency but, according to a local activist, Foxconn does have control over how it is run as it is investing in the hostels.

The abuse at the factory includes:

  • Restricted freedom of movement, including not being allowed to leave the hostel for anything except commutes to the factory from Monday to Saturday. The article says these constraints are a method to exercise control over the workers.
  • Substandard living conditions, such as sharing rooms with five others at an inconvenient distance from the factory, unhygienic and poorly maintained facilities, and poor food.
  • Restricted freedom of expression and isolation, with workers told not to communicate with the media. Activists allege they struggle to meet the workers as the hostels are heavily guarded. It also says the dormitories are designed to stop workers accessing unions.
  • Health & safety concerns, including workers experiencing back-ache and neck pains due to repeatedly bending over at work, and experiencing severe hair loss.
  • Excessive production targets, including workers experiencing verbal abuse if they are perceived to be inefficient or take toilet breaks outside of their lunch breaks.

Workers also describe other abusive conditions, such as being denied permanent contracts despite working long-term at the factory

Foxconn did not answer the journalists’ request for comment.

In March, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Apple to respond to the article, including by outlining its current relationship with Foxconn in India, and to disclose any human rights due diligence it undertakes prior to entering into contracts with suppliers and when monitoring working conditions at suppliers. Apple did not respond to the Resource Centre’s request for comment.