New Delhi: Major worker unrest and violence erupted at Taiwan-headquartered Wistron Corporation’s Naraspura plant in Kolar near Bengaluru, which manufactures iPhones, on Saturday morning, reportedly over delayed salary payments and wage cuts.
“The incident happened at 6.30 am on Saturday after nearly 2,000 workers came to the end of their night shift. In video footage of the incident, workers could be seen smashing the offices of senior executives, the factory’s front lobby and flipping parked cars,” a report in the Deccan Herald said.
Apparently, the trigger for the “violence” by workers was weeks of anger building up against delayed payment of salaries as also wage cuts and change in work contracts.
“The issue has been festering for about 8 to 10 weeks, during which employees were subject to arbitrary changes to their work contracts. About 90% of the 8,000-strong workforce are contractual workers with a promised salary of Rs 16,000 per month for an 8-hour work shift. But over the last few months many were being paid only Rs 12,000 and were also told to work for up to 12 hours a day,” Deccan Herald, quoted a source as saying.
The workers were also angry as those who complained to the management were “arbitrarily fired,” the source added.
According to the report, most of the workforce had dispersed after police allegedly lathi-charged protesters. “Some 60 to 70 employees have been caught by police and have been badly beaten. There is a climate of fear at the Narasapura Industrial Area,” the source added.
According to the police, workers “overturned cars and damaged furniture” inside the premises.
A police officer told PTI that workers pelted stones, smashed glass windows, damaged vehicles, furniture, computers and laptops in connection with 'salary related issues.'
A trade union leader told PTI that anger was immering for quite some time as most employees on contract were not paid 'on time' besides there were 'many deductions' from their salary.
Wistron manufactures iPhone 7 for Apple, IT products for Lenovo, Microsoft, among others. It had received 43 acres at Narasapura industrial area from the state government after it proposed to invest around Rs 2,900 crore and give employment to over 10,000 people, according to an Economic Times report.
While there was no comment from the company, M D Harigovind, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress or AITUC, told Deccan Herald that: ““The industrial violence in Wistron is a direct result of the brutal exploitation of workers and sweatshop-like conditions created by a company, manufacturing the most expensive mobile phones. The state government has allowed the company to flout the basic rights of the workers like payment of wages and working hours. In the absence of any regulation, anarchy has prevailed.”
(with inputs from PTI)