11 February 2016 07:17:43 IST

Mobile phone industry wants flexible labour laws

Labour laws among top roadblocks industry is facing to thrive, says ICA

As it embarks on a mission to achieve a production capacity of 500 million phones by 2020, the Indian mobile phone industry has asked the Central and State governments to have flexible labour laws in the country.

“There is an absence of forward looking and flexible labour laws in the Centre and States. Labour law framework with flexibility on hiring and termination of services (firing) based on the business reality,” the industry has asked the Central and State governments.

The Indian Cellular Association (ICA), which is in active dialogue with the Centre and States to promote manufacturing ecosystem, has felt that this is among the top roadblocks that the industry is facing to thrive.

“Phone firms work on the edge. Some die in a short period. We need to have flexible laws that allow retraining of people to accommodate in other jobs. We have written to a few States on this issue,” Indian Cellular Association President Pankaj Mohindroo told BusinessLine .

Manufacturing clusters

Hit hard post the closure of Nokia’s manufacturing facility in Chennai that used to produce 180 million phones at one point of time, the industry is now looking at developing manufacturing clusters in some progressive States.

The industry expects to touch the 100-million units mark this year, almost doubling the capacities from last year’s 58 million. “We are aiming to reach the 500-million mark by 2019-20, emerging as a top player after China,” he said.

The size of the market would grow to ₹3 lakh crore by 2020 from about ₹1 lakh crore now.

Most of the additional production capacities would come up in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. “We hope Tamil Nadu will revive its strengths in mobile phone production,” Pankaj said.

Human resources

In order to support the production capacities in phones and ancillaries, the ICA is in talks with the Centre to set up an Iconic Centre of Excellence on the lines of the one in Taiwan that trains 10,000 people exclusively for the telecom sector.

“We have identified about 40 job roles, taking care of a number of aspects. To begin with, the centre will train 10,000 people annually. Over a period of time, the centre would train 50,000,” A Gururaj, Director of Telecom Sector Skill Council, said.

“Skilled human resources are in short supply with only 50,000 of them available. We would be needing 14.5 lakh skilled people by 2020 to achieve the landmark of 500 million phones,” Pankaj said.

The Iconic CoE would be operational in the next 12 to 18 months.