Home >News >India >Apple supplier Wistron plant violence: 437 crore loss, FIR against 7,000 people; key updates

After worker unrest at Wistron Corp.’s facility near Bengaluru turned violent over the weekend, the Taiwan-headquartered company stated that it suffered losses of over 437.7 crores.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against 7,000 unknown people, including 5,000 contract workers, in connection with violence and vandalism at the facility of Wistron Pvt Ltd, manufacturer of iPhone, at its plant in Kolar.

The unrest has erupted over a wage dispute. One employee who spoke to Mint said that the company was defrauding workers on overtime payments, salary and had even resorted to assault.

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"Security guards have lathi-charged at us when we wait in line to punch-in our attendance, at the canteen," said one employee, requesting anonymity.

Wistron is one of Apple’s global contractors and the company manufactures iPhone 7 handsets and second-generation iPhone SE devices in India.

Key updates in the case so far:

Setback to Apple's expansion plans

Apple Inc.’s effort to expand the manufacturing of its products in India has run into trouble after the violence at the Kolar plant.

The company had plans to hire up to 25,000 employees by the end of 2021 in a bid to expand their India operations. Currently, 12,000 people are employed by them, of which 1,200 are permanent while the rest are contractual employees.

The clash is part of a broader geopolitical challenge for Apple, the most valuable company in the world with a market capitalization of $2 trillion. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has long had its iPhones and iPads made in China by contractors such as Wistron and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., but the political tensions between China and the U.S. have raised the risks of dependence on a single production base.

Apple's probe in the violence

Apple Inc. has launched an investigation into worker 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," Apple said in a statement on Monday.

The company said it is dispatching additional team members and auditors to the facility. “Our teams are in close touch with the local authorities and we’re offering our full support to their investigation," it added.

People exit from the gate of Wistron near Bengaluru
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People exit from the gate of Wistron near Bengaluru (AFP)

FIR against unknown persons

As many as 7,000 people have been booked in connection with violence and vandalism at the Wistron facility. In the FIR, the company stated that it suffered losses of over 437.7 crores during the violence on December 12.

Damages have been done to the property, office materials, vehicle and other things, as per the FIR registered at Vemagal police station, Kolar.

The Taiwan-based company has said the protesters are not its own workers, suggesting they may have been hired by employment agencies, though it’s not clear who is responsible for paying them.

Extent of damage

Wistron Corporation has said that it had suffered loss worth 437.40 crore. A large number of employees allegedly carried out arson, loot and violence at the Narasapura manufacturing plant of Wistron over wage-related issues on Saturday.

They damaged the building, damaged vehicles, set them on fire, damaged costly equipment including machines and computers.

In its complaint at the Vemagal police station, company executive T D Prashanth has stated that office equipment, mobile phones, production machinery and related equipment worth 412.5 crore was lost.

Infrastructure worth 10 crore, 60 lakh worth cars and golf carts, smartphones and other gadgets worth 1.5 crore were among those which suffered the damage, stolen or lost.

Company in shock

The managing director of the Wistron India Sudipto Gupta said in a statement the company was in a state of deep shock by the events at its Narasapura facility.

"We follow the law and are supporting the authorities with their investigation. The safety and wellbeing of our team members is always our top priority," Gupta said in a statement to the media.

Political parties seek probe

Political parties in Karnataka on Sunday sought a thorough probe into the violence at Wistron's plant as they expressed concerns about its possible impact on the investment-friendly image of the state.

Condemning the violence, the state government has already assured of necessary action. Leaders of the ruling BJP and opposition Congress termed the incident as unfortunate and sought a detailed probe.

"It is unfortunate that Wistron manufacturing plant was violently attacked by agitating workers near Kolar. At a time when many companies are shifting base from China to India, such attacks give a bad name for the State. I request CM B S Yediyurappa to order a probe into this incident," BJP national general secretary C T Ravi tweeted.

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