Bengaluru: Investigations into the recent violence at the Wistron’s iPhone manufacturing plant are on and a report was likely in a couple of days, Karnataka Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar said on Wednesday even as he expressed hope about the factory restarting soon, with the Centre also involved in addressing issues.
Asserting that the government was there to protect the interest of the labourers, the minister, however, said such incidents may have an adverse impact on investment and job creation prospects in the state.
Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, has informed the Taiwan Stock Exchange that the December 12 violence at the iPhone manufacturing facility at Narsapura in Kolar district, did not cause any material damage to major manufacturing equipment and warehouses.
It put preliminary damage estimates in the range of New Taiwan Dollar 100 to 200 million, which is about Rs 52 crore.
Earlier reports, quoting the complaint by company officials to the local police station, had put the estimate at about Rs 437 crore.
“There is no employees union as yet…There was immaturity on part of the labourers, also the company should have paid attention towards contractors..we will get to know in a couple of days, the exact information on how much amount was paid (towards workers) and when,” Hebbar said.
Speaking to PTI, he said meetings have taken place at the government level and also with the union Cabinet Secretary from Delhi — the Centre is also involved.
The company has said it will try to start the factory in about 15 days, the minister said.
“I hope it will be as early as possible.
Also we will get the money that the labourers should get, actions are on in this regard…investigations are on, we are checking as to what really has happened,” he added.
Workers at the plant, run by the Taiwanese operator, had gone on a rampage on Saturday over the alleged delay in payment of salary and overtime wages.
Over 150 people have been arrested following the incident that witnessed pelting of stones, breaking windows and doors, overturning and setting fire to vehicles in the parking lot footage of which had flooded the social media.
The minister pointed out that the incident had happened early on December 12 and on December 14 a meeting was held with company and labour department senior officers.
The minister said the company has 8,490 contractual employees through outsourcing arrangement with five-six companies and about 1,343 permanent staff working at the facility.
He said their grouse was that contract employees were not being paid properly. Women were recruited but there were no proper measures and instead of eight hours they were made to work for 12 hours.
“This was their anger, but they had not shared their grievances with the government or the department, or even sent a letter.”
“We are here to protect the interest of labourers, but this act of taking law into hands, the government will not support.This is not the right way,” he said, as he appealed to the labour community in the state to approach it as the department is there to address their issues.
Meanwhile, Wistron Corp has informed the Taiwan Stock Exchange that the company is assessing the extent of damage in various areas of the facilitys campus.
Unlike earlier reports stated, the violence did not cause any material damage to major manufacturing equipment and warehouses, with preliminary damage estimates in the range of NTD 100 to 200 million,it said.
Wistron is co-working with related government authorities and police officials regarding investigation of the incident as well as negotiating with Insurance companies, it said.
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) alleged that the incident was the direct result of the exploitative, illegal practices of the employer and the complete lack of regulation from the state government.
The sweatshop-like-conditions of work at the factory combined with the failure to provide basic rights such as working hours and payment of wages led to the “spontaneous” violence,it claimed.
In a release it demanded action against the employer and contract labour agencies, with reports that more than 85 percent of the workforce in the company was contractual.
“This is a blatant and atrocious abuse of the Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act,” it said.
Several irregularities in payment of wages led to delayed payments and also illegal deduction of wages contributed to unrest among the workforce, the AITUC further alleged.
It claimed that even engineering and MBA graduates were forced to work as operators earning (low) minimum wages of Rs 12,000 per month.
Also complaining about 12 hour shifts, staggered weekly holidays and women working in night shifts without any regulation, it demanded that the state government initiate action against such “exploitative practices”.