India’s iPhone factory is keeping women workers isolated

Dear reader,

India’s iPhone push is making headlines across the world. But hidden out of sight are the women who are assembling the phones in the Foxconn factory in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.

Radha M is one of them. The daughter of farmers, she was happy to land a job at the Foxconn factory. But soon she realised it came at a hidden cost: from Monday to Saturday, she could only leave the company hostel to commute to the factory. If she wanted to venture out for any other reason, she had to make a request to the hostel administration, a member of which then called up her parents. “Only after they confirm the reason for the request, we are allowed to go,” Radha said.

An activist pointed out that this was “basically like jailing people”. He said it served a larger purpose: “the workers never get a chance to meet anyone and remain isolated.”

When Johanna Deeksha travelled to Sriperumbudur, she found it a challenge to meet and talk to the women workers. She persisted. The result is an eye-opening story about the living and working conditions of the women. Read the story here.

"The workers I met were all bright young women who were happy they had jobs that paid better than the ones they would have had in their hometowns," Johanna noted. " But they still craved a bit more freedom, which they could get by unionising. To hear that many of these women didn't even know they had the right to unionise was a very unfortunate revelation."

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Supriya Sharma
Executive Editor

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