Thousands of employees of contract maker Apple Wistron India were recently seen entering the Narasapura facility in Kolar, Karnataka, vandalizing and robbing office properties. Wistron is a Taiwanese manufacturer that makes iPhones for Apple Inc.
The escalation came after employees claimed that the Taiwanese organization had reduced its salaries and made irregular payments. The angry group of workers caused a stir on Saturday last week, affecting the factory’s properties, including the vehicles of the officials parked on the premises. Workers also smashed windows, furniture and CCTV cameras on campus. Wistron Corporation said it suffered a loss of Rs 437.40 crore in the incident.
The incident was condemned by senior Karnataka government leaders, with Deputy Chief Minister C Ashwathnarayan assuring that strict action will be taken against the perpetrators and ensuring that the government does everything necessary to resolve the issue promptly and dispel everyone’s concerns. stakeholders. involved in the dispute.
An FIR has been filed against 7,000 unknown people, including 5,000 contract workers in connection with the violence and vandalism at the headquarters of iPhone maker Wistron Pvt Ltd. So far, 150 people have been arrested by police in connection with the vandalism incident at the iPhone manufacturing unit in Kolar on Saturday. They were sent to judicial 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 the violence at the Wistron factory?
Employees who faced riots at the Wistron plant near Bengaluru said the problem of low wages and late payments had persisted for more than four months. They claimed that the company had postponed the payment of salaries for the last four months. They also accused the organization of reducing their salaries and not paying them for overtime.
The communist-affiliated union justifies the vandalism
“It simply came to our notice then. Initially, there were three shifts that were transformed into two shifts with 12 working hours and four additional working hours. The company does not pay overtime wages and has also reduced the wages promised to employees, “said Krishna Siddi, a member of the All India Trade Union Congress.
It is remarkable here that the All India Trade Union Congress is affiliated with the Communist Party of India. Justifying the violence and vandalism that took place in the factory, MD Harigovind, Secretary General of AITUC said: “The industrial violence in Wistron is a direct result of the brutal exploitation of workers and the workshop conditions created by a company, the most expensive producer. telephones. The state government has allowed the company to contradict the basic rights of workers, such as the payment of wages and working hours. “
Last month, the Toyota Kirloskar Motors plant in Bidadi declared a set in its factory after the continued strike of union members. The Bidadi unit has two production plants with a total installed capacity of 3.10 lakh units per year. TKM’s management cited “breach of discipline and unacceptable behavior” by some members of the employees’ union and declared closure.
Stolen iPhones, losses of over 400 million
On Saturday, violence erupted when some contract workers demanded non-payment of regular contributions and overtime. They started throwing stones, and some vehicles parked inside the factory were vandalized. The iPhone cases, which were manufactured at the factory and kept for export, were looted by workers, according to reports.
A complaint filed by TD Prashanth executive said that 412.5 million rupees worth of office equipment, mobile phones, production equipment and related devices were lost. Damage of 10 million euros was caused to the infrastructure of the facility, damage of 60 lakhs to golf cars and carts, and smartphones and other devices worth 1.5 million rupees were stolen from the facility. .
The Labor Department denies allegations of salary delays
The incident of vandalism at the Wistron production unit took a new turn, as the Labor Department claimed that the organization regularly paid the salaries of its employees and that this month there was only a 4-day delay.
According to Labor Commissioner Akram Pasha, the data showed that the company was prompt to pay contributions to its employees, except this month, where it was delayed in transferring the remuneration by only 4 days. “Only the police can investigate why this happened. I saw the data and there were only four days of delay in distributing salaries. Many claimed that it was for several months, but it was not there in the report “, said Pasha.
The labor department asked for more documents to investigate the issue and the company looked for a week to return.
Regarding reports that the company was considering increasing the number of employees from 5,000 to over 10,000, the commissioner said the reports may not be true because the company followed the proper process and trained all its employees beforehand. to take them to the factory.
It appears that the four-day late payment was caused by a software error. Previously, the biometric presence was taken and salaries were paid according to their presence. However, after October 2020, the company switched to software that appeared to have developed a presence registration error, according to reports.
Even the Minister of Labor in Karnataka, Shivaram Hebbar, said that the labor authorities were not informed about the problems related to the delay of salaries at Apple Wistron’s installation, where the violence broke out last Saturday.
Wistron Plant, near Bengaluru, is involved in the production of Apple’s flagship iPhones
The Wistron production plant, like other contract manufacturers employed by Apple, is involved in the manufacture of its flagship line of smartphones. The factory, located in Narasapura, near Bengaluru, is a new factory that recently started launching the new iPhone SE (2020). Spread over a large 43-acre campus, the factory was built with an initial investment of 3,000 crore. The unit opened in July this year.
The original SE iPhone was the first iPhone to be made in India and now there are four models, including last year’s iPhone 11, being produced here. In addition to the Wistron production unit in Narasapura, the other Wistron factory is located in Peenya on the outskirts of the capital Bengaluru, where the 2017 iPhone SE models were manufactured.
There are about 2,000 regular workers and 5,000 contract workers employed in the Narasapura unit. The old Peenya unit has about 3,500 employees. IPhones and other devices produced at the Narasapura and Peenya facilities are exported to other countries around the world.