Just a few days ago reports appeared stating that Apple supplier Foxconn's plant in Chennai would remain closed after worker protests over a food poisoning incident. But now according to a recent report, an internal intelligence note suggested that "Chinese aid to the left-leaning workforce inside Foxconn" is the reason behind labour unrest.
This note was obtained by The Week, which stated that according to the internal note “the knee-jerk reaction to the substandard canteen food causing ill health to a few staff members is an indicator of an international design to destabilise industrial establishments”. Additionally, the shocking note claimed that “it is no secret that China was aggrieved over these factories, as, earlier, 48 per cent of the components for Apple iPhone were produced in China".
"Apple has increased its stable of contracts with manufacturers in India of late as the US-China feud threatened to impose tariffs on Apple devices,” the note further added, as quoted by The Week.
It was also said in the note that due to India developing as a manufacturing alternative for Apple and other global IT corporations, China's supply chain became entangled in the US-China trade conflict. The list of Taiwanese companies in India includes names like Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing at Narasapura in Karnataka and Pegatron Technology Pvt Ltd at Mahindra City near Chennai. It should be noted that Wistron had halted operations owing to an assault and violence allegation within the workplace.
Additionally, Sanmina, Ford, PPG Asian Paints and Enfield India Limited, among others, have all experienced disturbance, according to the intelligence note. It also reportedly mentioned a few other businesses in Sriperumbudur, claiming that “the group is making all efforts to intrude”. It further urges that "nefarious activities" should be thwarted by taking the required countermeasures at the highest level.
In the case of Foxconn, one of the Taiwanese companies in India, labour unions were not allowed within the facility and individuals who participated in union activities had little job security.
The Week’s report stated that according to the intelligence note, the issue was that "left-leaning forces" took advantage of the facility's working conditions. It went on to say that the agitation was led by the New Democratic Labour Front, Peoples Democratic Youth Association, Peoples Rights Protection Centre and Students Uprising Movement".
The involvement of these movements in the agitation, as well as their linkages to movements outside India, is being investigated, according to sources in the Tamil Nadu government, the report added.
However, K Kangaraj, state secretary of the CPI(M), dismissed the possibility of a Chinese hand in the agitation at the Foxconn facility, saying, "This is the reason given to hide the unfair labour practices followed inside the manufacturing facility.” He said: “The immediate provocation was that there were severe infections and a few employees died".
Meanwhile, after a high-level team of ministers and senior officials visited the Foxconn complex, the Tamil Nadu government urged the business to improve working conditions, and following discussions with representatives from the state administration, Foxconn committed to enhancing workplace environment.
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