Riot-Hit Apple iPhone Supplier Wistron Sacks Its India Vice President, Admits Lapses Caused Violence

An internal probe by a state government agency found that Apple supplier Wistron’s Indian factory in Karnataka could not cope up with the rapid scaling up of manpower and breached several laws. Thousands of contract workers at the plant expressed their anger over non-payment of wages by destroying property worth millions on 12 December.

Taiwanese firm Wistron has sacked Vincent Lee, Vice President (innovation business group) of Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India after the company found several lapses in the Karnataka plant that led to massive violence last week. Wistron later admitted that some workers had not been paid correctly, or on time. “We deeply regret this and apologise to all of our workers”, it said.

The firm said that some of the processes it put in place to “manage labour agencies and payments need to be strengthened and upgraded” as an internal report by the Karnataka Factories Department found a more than two-fold jump in manpower in a short span of time at this plant.

“Though 10,500 workers are employed in the factory the HR department has not been adequately set up with personnel of sound knowledge of labour laws”, said the report of the inspection conducted on 13 December.

“We are removing the vice president who oversees our business in India. We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again. Our top priority is to ensure all workers are fully compensated immediately”, Wistron said in a statement on Saturday.

The firm has also established an employee assistance programme for workers at the facility. “We also set up a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, and English to ensure all workers can voice any concerns they may have anonymously”, it added.

The Karnataka Factories Department in its report, submitted to the state government, also claimed that the Taiwanese firm was underpaying contract workers and making female staff work overtime without legal authorisation.

After the violence, the Karnataka police picked up hundreds of contract workers. Meanwhile, the firm’s manufacturing unit in Narasapura, about 60 km from Bengaluru, remains closed since the riot over non-payment of wages erupted.

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