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Karnataka says Wistron can reopen iPhone unit but will have to follow hiring rules set by govt

Wistron will resume operations by 20 February two months after violent protests rocked the company’s iPhone facility in Kolar over pending salaries.

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Bengaluru: Apple Inc’s Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron, which had shut its Kolar facility in Karnataka after a violent protest last December, will resume operations by 20 February, even as the investigations will continue.

While Wistron has said it has restructured its recruiting team, the Karnataka government has set hiring rules for the company.

Speaking to ThePrint, Karnataka Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar said: “Our first prerogative is to start the operations as soon as possible. Let the investigations continue, but now that we have set the rules on how the recruitment of contract labourers should take place, they should follow it stringently. I have visited the facility and I am convinced that we can open by 20 February.” 

On 12 December, a large group of contractual workers vandalised the Kolar iPhone manufacturing facility over pending salaries and indiscriminate pay cuts. 

The violence forced the company to halt production of products like iPhone 7 and iPhone SE, which it supplies to Apple.

CCTV images showed several employees damaging property worth several crores of rupees and some were even found stealing iPhones and laptops during the chaos.

More than 170 workers were initially arrested and later released after questioning or due to lack of evidence.

“We have arrested 54 people, who have been identified from the CCTV footage where they were seen taking company property like phones and laptops. They have been retrieved. As for the recruiting agencies, we have asked them to ensure that due diligence is expected from them,” IGP (central range) M. Chandrashekar told ThePrint. 

Also read: Violence at iPhone plant will not cause significant impact to company, Wistron says

Firms that supplied workers black-listed

Minister Hebbar said police verification of close to 6,000 employees of the facility has been completed and licences have been reissued to Wistron to employ them.

During the investigation into the violence, it was found that six firms that supplied manpower to the Wistorn facility had failed to pay wages to the workers. 

“They (six firms) have been black-listed,” said the minister.

“Wistron has around 8,500 temporary workers and the manpower was supplied by 5-6 firms. It was completely their fault that they exploited the workers and did not pay/defaulted on salary payments,” he added.

Government sources said Wistron officials have assured the state administration and the police of providing enhanced training programmes to all workers.

They have also assured that any information or concerns raised by the employees would be immediately acted upon and the anonymity of the employee would be maintained, sources added.

A contractual employee, who was initially picked up by the police and later let off, told ThePrint they have received all their pending dues, including salaries and the money they owed for working overtime. 

Also read: Wistron iPhone plant violence ‘unfortunate but not norm’, we’ll get more investment — Modi govt

Apple to monitor Wistron ‘closely’

Apple has, meanwhile, said it will monitor Wistron’s progress “closely”. 

“A comprehensive set of corrective actions have been completed and Wistron has restructured their recruiting team and enhanced training and support for workers. Wistron remains on probation and we will monitor their progress closely,” said the American tech giant in a statement Tuesday.

Wistron, in a statement, has said it is all set to resume operations and welcom the team back to work.

“The violence in the Narasapura facility was unfortunate and since the day, the company has been working hard on improving across the board to raise standards and fix the issues,” said David Shen, CEO, Wistron Smart Devices.

“All employees have been promptly and fully paid, and we implemented new hiring and payroll systems to ensure everyone is paid correctly and provided the correct documentation going forward,” he added.

Also read: ‘Missing’ contractors key to solving mystery of Wistron iPhone plant attack, police begin hunt


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  1. First government has to apply strictly industrial rules on private firm so that worker and industry will run smoothly. My question is “are humans beings are materials”, why contract basis hiring? where we have separate labour department in india to safeguard employees and their rights? All this non sense stuff happens only because of government policies and contract basis hiring

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