On a hot, humid morning on Sunday, dozens of buses parked outside a green degraded block in Andhra Pradesh in South India. The women in colorful salwar kameezes clothes, shawls wrapped around their small bodies, walked through the grass to get into the car, passed the poster with the slogan "Our purpose: no accident happened".
The evening shift of the Foxconn smartphone assembly facility in Sri is coming to an end, thousands of women flock from here, and thousands more come in to replace them. One of them is Jennifer Jayadas, a 21-year-old tall, thin woman who now lives in a rundown apartment 2 miles away, without even running water.
After finishing her free breakfast, she included a piece of bread, a curry with beans and potatoes, and she wore a white work shirt, anti-static shoes and gloves. Then she went to her work area, where she would spend the next 8 hours checking the quality of the volume rocker, the buzzer and many other smartphone features. She shared: "Previously smartphones were all made in China, but now they're made here!"
Foxconn, otherwise known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. opened its first facility in India 4 years ago. The company now has two assembly facilities, along with plans to expand two more. India is now one of the key markets for the Taiwan-based assembly of its products, as it wants to reduce its dependence on China.
Success in the Indian market is becoming increasingly urgent for Foxconn, as the US government of President Donald Trump is organizing an economic war with China, taxing thousands of other technology production. – including products of Foxconn's major partners Apple and Amazon.
In August, Mr. Trump also ordered American companies to move their production lines from China to their home countries, citing national security reasons. Two days later the order was abolished, but also made many companies have a 'howling', because this work will cost them a lot of money, both short-term and long-term.
Josh Foulger, manager of Foxconn India said: "In business, the smart move is not to put all of our eggs in one basket. We have to find alternative markets, and there must be potential markets. Foxconn can also open." facility in Mexico, but this market is no longer as ideal as 10 years ago. "
Foulger, 48, grew up in the Chennai area and studied at Texas Arlington University, then returned to India to build a Nokia manufacturing plant in his home country. He also joined Foxconn four years ago to help Terry Gou build a factory in India, currently the world's fastest growing smartphone market.
Foxconn's first factory was established in 2015 in the city of Sri, an economic region of India with an open door policy to trade with foreign countries. The facility now employs 15,000 people, 90% of whom are women, assembling technological products – including products that are popular with Indians. Xiaomi. In recent months, the facility has also been tasked with assembling and testing iPhone X quality, which has been sold in India and exported to other countries as well.
The second facility at Sriperumbudur was established in 2017, a 2-hour drive from the first campus. It has 12,000 employees and is designed as a semi-automation form. According to Foulger, by 2023, the company will expand both these points, and open two new facilities.
Foxconn still has to import components from China, but hopes to soon produce monitors and circuit boards in India. Foulger is aiming to occupy 1/3 of the domestic smartphone market and 10% globally (currently at 2.5%). He also wants his country to be able to produce other products, such as the Amazon Echo speaker. "India is currently producing for 'self-sufficiency,' but soon India will produce for the World."
Sitting inside a room overlooking the Sriperumbudur facility, the manager shared the 'secrets' of India's success: labor costs were half the price of China, abundant engineers and a government. would love to develop.
Companies like Foxconn have a close relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is under great pressure of unemployment in India, which has now surpassed 6%. Policy 'Made in India' (Make in India) is now in its fourth year, with the aim of attracting foreign companies to open facilities in the country. Pankaj Mahindroo, head of Indian electronics and telecommunications industry, said: "Our plan is to bring the current smartphone industry worth US $ 25 billion to US $ 400 billion by 2024, with a large amount for export."
This will certainly be a tough road: The campaign has only created 700,000 jobs, according to Mahindroo's analysis team. Skilled workers such as industrial designers still account for a few of them, and not many domestic suppliers can produce batteries, semiconductor devices or microprocessors. "India has not yet achieved success, but everything is on schedule. Now what India can do is speed up assembly to help the World reduce its dependence on China."
Foxconn has played an important role in making China a 'World factory', and according to regulators Foxconn will do the same for India. This process has also been going on for 30 years with China. "China has the advantage of extremely abundant labor, they have also invested heavily in transportation." – Andrew Polk, a partner of Trivium China, a research company in Beijing. "Even if they have smaller labor resources, there is still an advantage in productivity."
In order for India to catch up with China, it requires a lot of investment in roads, facilities to transport goods and more. "As China begins to grow, other markets are very fragmented and there is no competition with them. India must not only succeed, but also be more successful than China to catch up. The US-China economy is also an advantage, but it is also small. China has developed without regard to the environment, now environmental laws are much more stringent. "
With 20 years of experience with various supply chains in the country (India) and abroad, Mr. Foulger knows very well about these obstacles. "I can sit here crooked and say that India can match China in one afternoon. But in reality, we have a lot of difficulties.". Although the government provides location, water and electricity to Foxconn, Dell, or Flextronics manufacturing facilities – these factories still have to buy water from nearby areas to meet the needs of thousands of workers in here.
Mr. Foulger had originally intended to recruit mostly female workers. Hiring women in China is common, but it is strange in India – because they are often assigned to housework or agriculture. Women in the areas around the assembly facilities were not even allowed to work night shifts, until the government stepped in and abolished these practices.
The one who came up with this idea was Mr. Foulger's mother, who was very dedicated to giving women the opportunity to work. She is a teacher, often seeing her female students being treated unfairly; She also told him that women in this country have great potential, hard work and hard work, but often fail because they are not given the right opportunities. Many people do not go to school, are forced to go to work early or get married at a young age.
Foulger's factories must be adjusted to suit women, such as raising the temperature of the air conditioner so they do not get cold, or putting women's tampons in the toilet. Foulger also had to pay extra for security, to build boarding houses for workers with remote houses. But according to him all this is worth it, because "Women often work hard and are grateful for their help."
Foxconn has been criticized in the past for creating dangerous workplaces for its employees in China. No shortage of employees experiencing stress, even leading to suicide, shocked the public. The company has since had to raise wages, create psychological support lines and even nets to avoid future suicides. In August, the company had to fire two managers, after many employees said that they were given a pay cut to combat the economic war with the US.
The situation in India is completely different, the working conditions here are very kind. Employees here only complain about the repetition at work. From the first moment they step into the factory until they come out eight hours later, all work is very similar. Daily product output must be guaranteed. Long lines of women assemble each smartphone, then thoroughly examine every detail. Shivaparvati Kallivettu, 24, shared that her most comfortable break was her first meal, when she was able to chat with her four best friends.
Most of the women here work for a certain purpose, such as wanting to send their children to better schools or repay their families' debts. This work takes them out of poverty. Jayadas is paid 9,000 rupees a month (130 USD, about 1/3 of the average salary in China), buses are provided for free, along with 2 full meals daily. Each person is taught 10 basic skills, so they can move jobs in the same production line. Some people consider this a temporary job. There are nearly 400 people regularly quit their jobs.
After the shift, Ms. Jayadas got on the bus and went home with her family before 4pm. She helps with housework, as well as collecting 12 buckets of water from a nearby pumping station. Her father made money by repairing the DVD player, but did not make much, so the money she earned was used to support the family. She pointed to her roosting roof: "First, I have to fix this house. After that, I want to save to go to a beauty course (makeup)."