Why employees protested at Wistron factory in India

A Karnataka state government inspection has revealed the main reasons for several employees to protest at Wistron’s iPhone manufacturing factory, Reuters reported.
Wistron manufacturing Apple iPhoneApple supplier Wistron’s Indian factory in Karnataka could not cope up with the scaling up of manpower and breached several laws, a government inspection has revealed.

Several thousand contract workers at Wistron angered over alleged non-payment of wages destroyed property, factory gear and iPhones at the plant early on Dec. 12, causing millions of dollars in losses to the Taiwanese contract manufacturer and forcing it to shut the manufacturing plant.

The manpower at this plant, which assembles one iPhone model and became operational earlier this year, rose to 10,500 workers from the permitted 5,000 in a short span of time, according to a Karnataka factories department report.

“Though 10,500 workers are employed in the factory the HR department has not been adequately set up with personnel of sound knowledge of labour laws,” said the report of the inspection conducted on Dec. 13.

The exclusive news report said there is a wide gap between practices followed at the factory and legal requirements.

Wistron introduced 12-hour shifts from the earlier eight-hour shifts at the plant in October but failed to properly address the confusion in the minds of the workers about their new wages inclusive of overtime, the report noted.

The company also did not inform the factories department of the new work shifts, it said.

Wistron, which also changed its attendance system in October, did not fix for two months a glitch which caused factory employees’ presence to be incorrectly registered, the probe found.

Some other violations highlighted in the report included underpayment of wages to contract workers and housekeeping staff, and making women staff work overtime without legal authorisation.

An earlier government audit of the factory, just hours after the rampage, had also found “several labour law violations”, Reuters previously reported.

“The company has started an internal audit, which should help it improve systems,” said Gaurav Gupta, the top government official at Karnataka’s Industries Department.

“We expect it will bring up solutions to improve relationships with workers and pave the way for starting operations soon.”

Apple places Wistron on probation 

Apple on Saturday said it had placed contract manufacturer Wistron on probation and would not give the Taiwanese firm new business until it took corrective actions following lapses at its southern India plant.

Early findings of an Apple audit, which followed violence at the Wistron plant in southern Karnataka state last weekend, show violations of the U.S. tech giant’s ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’, Apple said in a statement.

Wistron failed to implement proper working hour management processes, which “led to payment delays for some workers in October and November,” Apple said.

Apple will continue to monitor Wistron’s progress on corrective action, the Cupertino-California based company said.

“Our main objective is to make sure all the workers are treated with dignity and respect, and fully compensated promptly.”

In a statement earlier on Saturday, Wistron admitted some workers at its plant in Karnataka’s Kolar district had not been paid properly and said it was removing a top executive overseeing India business.

The plant – located some 50 km outside of the southern tech hub of Bengaluru – assembles one iPhone model, and became operational earlier this year.

“This is a new facility and we recognize that we made mistakes as we expanded,” Wistron said in the statement. “Some of the processes we put in place to manage labor agencies and payments need to be strengthened and upgraded.”