Workers went on a violent rampage at a facility manufacturing Apple iPhones and other products about 60 km from Bengaluru on Saturday morning, causing extensive damage to the premises.
Work has been suspended at Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd’s 43-acre plant in the Narasapura area of Kolar district. Over a hundred people have been arrested, police said.
Violence broke out during a change of shifts at the plant over the non-payment of promised wages, local officials said.
“The workers vandalised the factory over a dispute in payment of salaries. It was an uncalled-for action. The whole reception area was damaged. Phones made at the plant were taken away. A car was burnt and two cars of the company were damaged,” Kolar deputy commissioner C Satyabhama said.
The deputy commissioner said the company had decided to suspend operations for a few days in light of Saturday’s violence. “It seems the workers were unhappy over wages not being paid as promised. The issue was never brought to the notice of the labour department or district authorities. They have brazenly attacked the plant. The company also never reported any unrest,” Satyabhama said.
Local officials said that following the Covid-19 lockdown, salaries of workers – including engineering graduates earning between Rs 15,000 and Rs 21,000 per month – were cut by Rs 7,000-9,000.
The Taiwan-headquartered technical service provider company opened the Kolar plant last year with an initial investment of Rs 680 crore. It operates as a service centre and manufacturing centre for products including iPhone, and employs around 3,000 workers. The company is looking to invest nearly Rs 3,000 crore more to expand the facility, and aims to provide employment to 9,467 local people when the second phase of the plant is complete.
“We had a meeting of company officials and senior government officials recently on the Wistron proposal to expand the plant. At the time no issues about workers unrest were brought up by officials,” the DC said. “What has happened is very, very unfortunate. It seems some goons infiltrated the premises,” she said.
Inspector General of Police, central range, Seemanth Kumar Singh, said: “Around 125 persons have been arrested. There is no union or union leader in the firm. The workers are alleging that they are not getting their salary on time and that they are not being paid for overtime. A case of arson, rioting, robbery, and obstructing the police has been registered.” A team of policemen who first went to the factory was also attacked, the officer said.
Karnataka has witnessed several incidents of labour unrest in recent weeks. Over 3,500 workers at the automobile manufacturer Toyota Kirloskar Motors have been on strike since November 10. The factory at Bidadi, around 40 km from Bengaluru, has been locked out, with the striking workers – who are protesting their bigger workload since
November 9 after the company decided to step up manufacturing to meet increased demand – camping outside.
On Friday, nearly 1 lakh workers of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation went on a snap strike, bringing 20,000 buses to a halt and crippling the state’s inter-district transport system.
KSRTC workers are demanding payments on par with other government employees. Talks between the government and workers unions failed on Saturday. With the strike looking set to continue, the government has proposed introducing private buses on Sunday.
The Toyota workers have participated in the farm protests, and one of the leaders of the KSRTC workers strike is the farmer leader Kodihalli Chandrashekhar.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines