Violence at India Apple plant: What exactly happened at Karnataka unit?
On December 12, several thousand workers of an Apple manufacturing unit in Bengaluru ransacked 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, 51 kilometres from Bengaluru, India’s tech and investment hub. The vandalism by the workers — setting cars on fire, breaking windows, doors etc — raised concerns as it could impact investment in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern, Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said.
A week later, the government submitted its report probing what caused the violence and why the workers were disgruntled.
Here is what happened:
1. Over 150 people were arrested in connection with the violence.
2. As industry bodies termed the incident as a blot in the industry-friendly image of Karnataka, the Centre asked the state government to expedite its inquiry.
3. The department for promotion of industry and internal trade asked the state government to ensure that the “investor sentiment is not affected due to such one-off incident”.
4. The Karnataka government in its probe has said that the unit could not manage the increased operation. The plant became operational earlier this year. There were 5,000 workers initially. But the number rose to 10,500, according to Karnataka factories department report.
5. The HR department has not been adequately set up with personnel of sound knowledge of labour laws, resulting in various violations.
6. In October, the plant introduced 12-hour shift replacing the earlier eight-hour shift. There were glitches in attendance system as well.
7. Wistron on December 19 decided to remove the vice-president who was in-charge of business in India. In a statement, it has apologised for the payment delays and said some restructuring measures are being taken so that this does not happen again.
8. The unit was shut following the rampage but the authorities are hopeful that it could restart function in a few days,
9. Wistron said no manufacturing equipment has been damaged, though it lost in the range of New Taiwan Dollar 100 to 200 million, which is about Rs 52 crore.
10. As per a statement issued by Apple, it is putting Wistron on probation and the company is not going to receive any new business from Apple till corrective measures are enforced and completed.
Wistron is one of the 16 entities which have received approval for incentives under the government’s production linked incentive plan. Currently, iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are being assembled by Foxconn in Chennai, and iPhone 7 by Wistron in Bengaluru. The Kolar facility assembles the latest version of the iPhone SE.