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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Narasapura plant rampage: Wistron accepts mistakes, sacks vice president; Apple puts firm on notice

“Since the unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we have been investigating and have found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret this and apologize to all of our workers,” said a statement from Wistron on Saturday.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 19, 2020 8:13:30 pm
apple wistron, apple wistron controversy, apple wistron riot, apple wistron notice, apple wistron shutdownMen wearing protective face masks walk past broken windows of a facility run by Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, in Narsapura near Bengaluru, India, December 14, 2020. (Reuters)

Days after workers went on a rampage at the Wistron Corp plant in Narasapura over alleged delays in wages, the Taiwan-based manufacturer has removed its Vice President who oversees the business in India. Apple, one of the companies the plant in Kolar used to manufacture for, has said Wistron will not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective action.

“Since the unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we have been investigating and have found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret this and apologize to all of our workers,” said a statement from Wistron on Saturday.

In the statement, Wistron acknowledged that it had made mistakes as it expanded the then-new facility. “Some of the processes we put in place to manage labour agencies and payments need to be strengthened and upgraded.  We are taking immediate action to correct this,  including disciplinary action,” the statement said. It added: “We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again.”

Meanwhile, an Apple statement said its “preliminary findings indicate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct”.  Apple employees and independent auditors hired by the company have been working around the clock to investigate the issues which occurred at Wistron’s Narasapura facility, the statement said. “While these investigations are ongoing, our preliminary findings indicate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper working hour management processes. This led to payment delays for some workers in October and November,” it added.

Wistron, Apple factory, Apple wistron, karnataka iphone plant violence, Narsapura plant, iphone plant Narsapura plant violence, bangalore Narsapura plant protest, bengaluru Narsapura plant protest, bangalore news, karnataka news The Wistron facility in Narasapura near Bengaluru. (Reuters)

Wistron said its “top priority” was to ensure all workers are “fully compensated immediately and we are working hard to achieve that”.  It said an employee assistance programme has been set up for workers at the facility along with a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English to ensure all workers can voice any concerns they may have anonymously. “We are deeply committed to our business and employees in India. We are working diligently on corrective actions to ensure this does not happen again.”

karnataka iphone plant violence, Narsapura plant, iphone plant Narsapura plant violence, bangalore Narsapura plant protest, bengaluru Narsapura plant protest, bangalore news, karnataka news Violence broke out during a change of shifts at the plant over the non-payment of promised wages, local officials said (File)

Apple said its focus was on making sure everyone in our supply chain is protected and treated with dignity and respect. “We are very disappointed and taking immediate steps to address these issues,” the statement said, highlighting the disciplinary action and restructuring done by Wistron.  Incidentally, Wistron has another facility at the Peenya industrial area in Bangalore that is dedicatedly working on Apple products.

Apple, which has been dragged into the melee, seems to have take a serious view of the entire episode. The Apple statement said it has “placed Wistron on probation and they will not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective actions”. The statement added that Apple employees, along with independent auditors, will monitor their progress. “Our main objective is to make sure all the workers are treated with dignity and respect, and fully compensated promptly.”

An indianexpress.com report had earlier shown how payment disparity and denial of overtime to contractual employees could have been the triggers for the unrest at the plant. As many as 160 workers were rounded up by the police after the vandalism on December 12 with the company estimating its damages at Rs 437.70 crore.

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