Gujarat, AP woo Foxconn
When Gujarat’s additional chief secretary Ravi Saxena led a trade delegation in August this year to the Taiwan headquarters of telecom component maker Foxconn seeking investments in the state, not many eyebrows were raised. However, it is increasingly becoming apparent that labour unrest at Foxconn’s units near Chennai is prompting other states to pitch for the company’s future investments in India. Later this week, senior Foxconn officials will meet Andhra Pradesh chief minister K Rosaiah although company officials were not willing to disclose the agenda for the talks. “We are in discussions with everybody—from spinning mills in Coimbatore to MNCs. But our intention is not to take investments away from TN,” said a Gujarat state government official. Foxconn has three units in the Sriperumbudur-Sunguvarchatram belt on the outskirts of the city which employ over 5,000 workers to assemble mobile phones. Recent attempts by labour unions to mobilize them has sparked off a series of agitations, resulting in shutdowns. Both Left and DMK-affiliated unions have been stepping up efforts to gain a foothold in factories in the SEZ belt around Chennai. Late last week, reports suggested that Hyundai Motor India, Tamil Nadu’s largest FDI investor, was looking at Gujarat to house its third plant—the first two are in Sriperumbudur-—largely due to lack of support from the government on labour issues. A Hyundai spokesperson, however, denied this on Monday. The increasing differences between managements and unions have also led to disruptions in Nokia, Salcomp, BYD and Sanmina SCI’s factories in the Sriperumbudur-Oragadam belt. Foxconn recently signed a wage agreement with the Labour Progressive Front (LPF) —the trade union arm of the ruling DMK. The terms of the agreement had to be renegotiated after LPF representatives reneged on the original terms and demanded more wages when left-wing CITU also entered the scene.