Thousands of employees at Apple contract manufacturer Wistron India recently entered the Narasapura plant in Kolar, Karnataka, and ransacked and ransacked the office properties. Wistron is a Taiwan-based manufacturer that makes iPhones for Apple Inc.
The escalation came after staff claimed the Taiwan-based organization cut its salaries and made irregular payments. The angry group of workers went wild on Saturday last week and damaged factory property, including officials’ vehicles parked on the premises. The workers also smashed windows, furniture and surveillance cameras on campus. Wistron Corporation said it suffered losses of £ 437.40 million in the incident.
The incident was condemned by high-ranking officials in the Karnataka government. Deputy Prime Minister C Ashwathnarayan assured that tough measures will be taken against the perpetrators and that the government will take the necessary measures to resolve the matter expeditiously and to address the concerns of all involved in the dispute.
At the facility of iPhone maker Wistron Pvt Ltd, an FIR has been filed against 7,000 unknown persons, including 5,000 contract workers in connection with violence and vandalism. So far 150 people have been arrested by police on Saturday in connection with the vandalism at the iPhone production unit in Kolar. They were taken into custody and placed in various prisons in Kolar. A total of four FIRs were registered by the Kolar Police.
What is the problem that led to violence at the Wistron plant?
The workers who started rioting at the Wistron plant near Bengaluru on Saturday have claimed the reduced salary and late payment problem has existed for over four months. They alleged the company had been deferring salaries for the past four months. They also accused the organization of lowering their salaries and not paying them for overtime.
The communist union justifies vandalism
“This problem has been going on for over four months. Initially there were three shifts, which were converted into two shifts with 12 hours of work and four hours of overtime. The company does not pay salaries for overtime and has also reduced the promised salaries for employees, ”said Krishna Siddi, member of the All India Trade Union Congress.
It is noteworthy that the All India Trade Union Congress is affiliated with the Communist Party of India. MD Harigovind, General Secretary of AITUC, justified the violence and vandalism at the plant with the words: “The industrial violence in Wistron is a direct result of the brutal exploitation of workers and the sweatshop-like conditions created by a manufacturing company, the most expensive Telephones. The state government has allowed the company to disregard the basic rights of workers such as the payment of wages and working hours. “
Last month, the Toyota Kirloskar Motors plant in Bidadi announced a shutdown at its plant following the ongoing strike by union members. The Bidadi plant has two production facilities with a total installed capacity of 3.10 lakh units per year. TKM management pointed to “disciplinary violations and unacceptable behavior” by some union members and declared the closure.
iPhones looted, losses over 400 crores
Violence broke out on Saturday when some of the contract workers alleged non-payment of regular and overtime fees. They started throwing stones and some vehicles that were parked in the factory were destroyed. Boxes of iPhones made at the facility and kept for export have been looted by workers, according to some reports.
A complaint filed by the company’s managing director, TD Prashanth, found that office equipment, cell phones, manufacturing machinery and related equipment valued at Rs 412.5 billion were lost. Rs 10 billion in damage was caused to the plant’s infrastructure, and Rs 60 billion in damage to cars and golf carts, and Rs 1.5 billion worth of smartphones and other devices were stolen from the facility.
The Ministry of Labor denies allegations of late salaries
The vandalism incident at the Wistron manufacturing unit took a new turn when the labor department claimed that the organization was regularly paying its employees salaries and that there was only a 4 day delay this month.
According to Labor Commissioner Akram Pasha, the data showed that the company had paid the contributions to its employees promptly, except for this month when the remuneration transfer was delayed by just 4 days. “Only the police can investigate why this happened. We saw the data and there was only a four day delay in the payroll. Many claimed it was several months, but it was not included in the report, ”said Pasha.
Labor has asked for more documents to investigate the matter and the company has been looking for a week to return.
Regarding reports that the company was considering increasing its workforce from its current 5,000 to over 10,000, the commissioner said the reports may not be accurate as the company has been following the proper process and has trained all of its employees before entering were brought to the factory.
According to reports, the four-day payment delay was caused by a software bug. Previously, a biometric attendance was made and wages were paid based on their attendance. However, after October 2020, the company switched to software which reportedly appeared to have had an error registering to attend.
Even Karnataka’s Minister of Labor, Shivaram Hebbar, said labor authorities had not been informed of the late wage issues at Apple Inc.’s Wistron facility, where violence broke out last Saturday.
Wistron Plant near Bengaluru is involved in the production of Apple iPhones
The Wistron manufacturing facility, like other Apple contract manufacturers, is involved in the manufacture of its flagship smartphone line. The factory in Narasapura, near Bengaluru, is a new plant that recently launched the new iPhone SE (2020). The facility spans a sprawling 43 hectare campus and was built with an initial investment of Rs.3,000. The unit had opened in July this year.
The original iPhone SE was the first iPhone made in India. Four models are now being manufactured here, including last year’s flagship iPhone 11. In addition to the Wistron production unit in Narasapura, the other Wistron plant is located in Peenya on the outskirts of the capital Bengaluru, from where iPhone SE models have been manufactured since 2017.
The Narasapura unit has approximately 2,000 regular employees and 5,000 contract employees. The old Peenya unit employs around 3,500 people. The iPhones and other devices manufactured at the Narasapura and Peenya factories are exported to other countries around the world.