Tata adds up to 45,000 workers at iPhone parts factory

Tata Group plans to multiply the number of workers in the electronics factory in South India that makes iPhone components.

Tata Group plans to multiply the workforce at its electronics factory in South India that makes iPhone components, and add tens of thousands of employees as part of an effort to bring in more customers from Apple Inc.

The factory in the industrial city of Hosur, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is set to employ as many as 45,000 female workers in 18 to 24 months to set up new production lines, people familiar with the case said. The factory, which produces iPhone cases or the cases that hold the device together, currently employs about 10,000 employees, most of them women.

The salt-to-software conglomerate is one of the Indian companies trying to take advantage of Apple to diversify its supply chain outside of China. While only a small proportion of iPhones and their components are made in India, the country is impressing with its drive to challenge China as its neighbor struggles with Covid-related lockdowns and political tensions with the US.

Spread over more than 500 hectares, the Hosur plant employed about 5,000 women in September, including those from tribal indigenous communities, people said, but declined to be named because staffing plans are not public. Indian companies are trying to hire more women to improve gender inequality in the country.

Representatives from Tata and Apple did not respond to emails requesting comment.

Women at the Hosur factory earn a gross salary of just over 16,000 rupees ($194) per month, nearly 40% more than the Indian industry average for workers who use hands or tools in assembly, the people said. The workers will receive free food and shelter on campus, the people said, adding that Tata also plans to provide training and education.

India’s fledgling electronics industry is trying to capitalize on China’s challenges to face the pandemic. Apple’s main manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Group, is grappling with growing concerns that a Covid flare-up at its main Chinese factory could hurt production ahead of the all-important Christmas shopping season.

To diversify outside of China, Foxconn and other Taiwanese contract manufacturers have called Wistron Corp. and Pegatron Corp. ramped up iPhone production in India – a move also spurred by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s financial stimulus program. That has helped to increase iPhone exports from the South Asian country.

Adding more local component manufacturing would also bolster India’s efforts to expand deeper into the technology supply chain. Competitive iPhone case suppliers include Lens Technology Co., Jabil Inc. and Lingyi iTech Guangdong Co., according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Separately, Tata Group is in talks with Wistron to create an electronics manufacturing joint venture that aims to assemble iPhones in India, people familiar with the matter said in September.

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