Apple to probe if Wistron flouted supplier norms

Bengaluru | Updated on December 14, 2020

Apple Inc, on Monday, issued a statement saying it is investigating whether Wistron Corp has flouted supplier guidelines at its iPhone manufacturing facility in Karnataka, after workers allegedly indulged in violence over unpaid wages. The acts of six labour contractors/staffing firms are under spotlight.

A section of workers at Taiwan-headquartered Wistron Corporation’s manufacturing facility in the Narasapura Industrial Area in Kolar district near Bengaluru went on a rampage on Saturday over alleged non-payment of wages.

Karnataka Labour Commissioner Akram Pasha today called a meeting of all the stakeholders — Wistron, labour contractors and a few employees.

Fact-finding mission

The Labour Department officials who conducted a fact-finding visit to the Wistron factory told the government that Wistron has 1,343 permanent workers and 8,490 contract workers.

A senior Labour Department official who attended the meeting said: “The prima facie evidence shows that the labour unrest was not (due to) salary payment or outstanding dues, but demand for regularisation of contract workers. It is assembly work with light machinery and the Labour Department saw disparities in salary between highly skilled workers and new recruits.”

The Department was also told at the meeting that since the factory was fairly new there was no labour union to raise the issues. Over the past three months, a few SFI members were reported to have been demanding regularisation of the workforce.

Jagadish Shettar, Karnataka Minister for Large and Medium Scale Industries, said in a statement the State government is ready to provide adequate protection to companies that have invested in the State. “We will take stringent measures to prevent such unpleasant events from recurring,” he added.

Meanwhile, Apple expressed concern over the violence. “Apple is dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect. We have teams on the ground and immediately launched a detailed investigation at Wistron’s Narasapura facility in India. We are also dispatching additional Apple team members and auditors to the facility,” it said in an emailed statement, according to a PTI report.

Arson, loot charges

On Saturday, Wistron officials had lodged a complaint with the Vemagal police station in Kolar district, claiming to have suffered a loss of around ₹437.4 crore at its plant due to the labour unrest. It further complained that a large number of employees allegedly carried out arson, loot and violence, and damaged the building and a few vehicles parked in the premises.

Company executive TD Prashanth stated that office equipment, mobile phones, production machinery and related equipment were damaged.

Published on December 14, 2020

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