Violence at India Apple plant: A recap of what really happened at Wistron?
People exit from the gate of Wistron, a Taiwanese-run iPhone factory at Narsapura in BengaluruImage source: AFP

Violence at India Apple plant: A recap of what really happened at Wistron?

While 150 plus people have been arrested since Wistron (iPhone factory in India) incident in Bengaluru, it does implore the question - How did this happen?

On December 12, thousands of workers of an Apple manufacturing unit in Bengaluru (India’s tech hub) vandalised the office complaining that they were not getting their salaries. The facility of Wistron Corporation, which manufactures iPhone, is located at Narasapura Industrial Area of Kolar district. The vandalism by the workers setting cars on fire, breaking windows, doors and more raised concerns. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his concern, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.

While 150 plus people have been arrested since then, it does implore the question - How did this happen?

According to a report in the Times of India, Wistron assured engineering graduates a monthly pay-cheque of 21,000 but then reneged on the promise, not once but twice. The story goes that they reduced the salary from Rs 21,000 to Rs 16,000 and then cut it again to Rs 12,000. Non-Engineering graduates had it even worse. They saw their salary drop to a measly Rs 8,000. The employees were put in 12-hour shifts as opposed to the regular 8-hour shifts.

When you consider that most of these are 20-year-olds from poor households urgently looking to make ends meet, one can understand their frustration.

IS VANDALISM THE SOLUTION

Vandalism only creates more problems. After the incident over 150 employees are in jails. The state meanwhile is worried that this will affect investor's sentiment. After all, it seems the reputation of the Centre’s ‘Make in India’. The incident has once again cast the light on India's weak labour laws.

Initial findings now suggest that both Wistron and the hiring firms dishonoured many local labour laws. Wistron has apologised for the it, they have blamed a software glitch for the non-payment of dues. The only company that seems to have dealt with the situation proactively is Apple.

NO NEW BUSINESS

Apple has been in hot waters several times in the past for working with suppliers who mistreat employees. Recently, when Apple found out that Pegatron, the company's second-largest contract manufacturer had violated Apple's student-worker program and forced students to work night shifts iPhone creators suspended its business with Pegatron altogether. Since Wistron blatantly violated these provisions, Apple has placed the company on probation. This means that no new business until Wistron mends its ways.

WHAT IS WISTRON

Wistron is a Taiwanese company and a manufacturing partner for Apple in India. Three years back, the company invested close to Rs 3,000 crores in constructing a production unit in Kolar district to make iPhone 7 and other devices.

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