- According to Karnataka govt the violence-struck Wistron facility in Kolar which produces iPhones for Apple, may take two more weeks to reopen
- On the night of December 12, 2020, violence due to wage dispute broke out at the Indian unit of the Taiwanese group Wistron
- The government has assured to intervene and settle the pay disputes of the workers
A senior Karnataka government official said the first shift at the manufacturing partner of Apple Inc, Wistron, is likely to begin within a week as all necessary clearances have been given to the company.
Gunjan Krishna, Karnataka’s Industrial Development Commissioner and Director, Department of Industries & Commerce, said on Thursday, “The police verification for the 6,000-strong labor force is done and they can probably start one shift within a week’s time.”
The official added that the company had also obtained its revised factory licence and other approvals.
The declaration confirming the resumption of operations comes almost two months after the Taiwanese manufacturing giant was forced to shut down its shop floors on December 12, when a protest by contract workers took a violent turn at the Narasapura factory site in Kolar district, about 60 km from Bengaluru.
After the incident, the industry department has actively interacted with the company’s senior management to restart operations.
At its new plant in Narasapura, Wistron manufactures iPhones-7 and iPhone-SE for Apple, among other products.
The incident that made global headlines threatened to dent the investor-friendly reputation of Karnataka and potentially prove a setback for the flagship “Make in India” campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At the time, contract staff claimed that, among other problems, they were facing salary dues, unexplained wage decreases and 12-hour shifts with insufficient compensation. As they were accused of having kept back payments and retained a portion of the salaries of employees, the position of contractors came into doubt. Wistron Corporation, the Taiwan based tech company, has expected to sustained loss worth ₹ 437 crore and 40 lakhs in the violence.
Allegations made by the employees and several other breaches by the company have been verified by at least two Karnataka government-commissioned reports.
After its internal investigation, Apple suspended all new business with Wistron too discovered violations. Wistron responded by withdrawing its vice-president from India’s operations.
A Wistron senior executive refused to comment and a mail sent to the Taiwan headquarters of the company remains unanswered.
The Karnataka government had said days after the violence that they will guarantee the company’s reopening within 15 days; however, it has been nearly two months since.
One of the most industrious states, Karnataka attracts enormous investment from both domestic and foreign companies each year.
More than 2,000 shop floor employees from the Japanese automaker Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) have been on strike since November 10, about 43 km away from Wistron’s factory.
The operations of TKM were hit after workers initially protested the suspension of one member of the union, which ultimately resulted in the company declaring a lockout. The Karnataka labor department held mediation meetings and, from November 19, directed employees to return to their shifts. Four days later, the company extended the lockout, citing the plant’s “lack of congenial and safe atmosphere”.
On January 12, the company withdrew the lock-out, but employees declined to return because of the management’s insistence that they sign an undertaking on protection and efficiency, which the latter insists is not a government order.