(Bloomberg) — Tata Group plans to multiply the workforce at its southern Indian electronics factory that makes iPhone components, adding tens of thousands of workers as part of a push to win more business from Apple Inc.
The factory in the industrial city of Hosur, in Tamil Nadu state, will hire as many as 45,000 female workers within 18 to 24 months as it sets up new production lines, people familiar with the matter said. The factory, which makes the iPhone cases, or cases that hold the device together, currently employs about 10,000 workers, most of them women.
The salt-to-software conglomerate is among Indian companies trying to take advantage of Apple’s diversification of its supply chain outside of China. While only a small portion of iPhones and its components are made in India, the country is making inroads in its bid to challenge China as its neighbor struggles with Covid-related lockdowns and political tensions with the United States.
The Hosur factory, spread over more than 500 acres, in September employed about 5,000 women, including those from the indigenous tribal communities, the people said, declining to be named because staffing plans are not public. Indian companies are trying to hire more women to improve the country’s gender imbalance in the workforce.
Tata and Apple representatives did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Women at the Hosur factory earn gross wages of just over 16,000 rupees ($194) a month, nearly 40% more than the Indian industry average for workers who use hands or tools for assembly, according to the people. The workers get free food and accommodation within the 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 weather the pandemic. Apple’s main manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Group, is grappling with growing concerns that a Covid outbreak at its main Chinese factory could hurt production ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season.
To diversify beyond China, Foxconn and other Taiwanese contract manufacturers Wistron Corp. and Pegatron Corp. increased iPhone production in India – a move also boosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic stimulus program. It has helped boost 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. Rival iPhone makers include Lens Technology Co., Jabil Inc. and Lingyi iTech Guangdong Co., according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Separately, Tata Group is in talks with Wistron to set up an electronics manufacturing joint venture, which would seek to assemble iPhones in India, people familiar with the matter said in September.
©2022 Bloomberg LP