Technology giant Apple and design manufacturer Wistron on Saturday acknowledged the delay in payment of salaries to workers at an iPhone manufacturing facility near Bengaluru, where protests turned violent last week, The Times of India reported. Wistron sacked the executive who oversaw its business in India.
Apple said it has placed Wistron on probation and the manufacturer will not get contracts till it takes corrective action. It added that Wistron had violated the Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to enforce proper working hour-management process. “This led to payment delays for some workers in October and November,” Apple said.
Wistron admitted to making mistakes while expanding the facility in Narasapura in Karnataka’s Kolar district. “We are taking immediate action to correct this, including disciplinary action,” the company said. “We are removing the vice-president who oversees our business in India.”
The company added: “The safety and well-being of our team members is always our top priority and a core value for everyone at Wistron. 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 apologise to all of our workers.”
Wistron said it has set up a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English for the workers to voice their concerns.
Apple, meanwhile, said that it will monitor Wistron’s progress. “Wistron has taken disciplinary action and is restructuring their recruitment and payroll teams in Narasapura,” the company said. “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.”
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On December 12, workers at Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India Pvt Limited’s plant in Karnataka’s Kolar district vandalised the facility over non-payment of promised wages. The protestors stole iPhones made at the plant, burnt vehicles and damaged property.
The loss was estimated to be approximately Rs 437 crore, according to a police complaint by Wistron. Operations were suspended at the plant, located about 60 kilometres from Bengaluru. The police have arrested or detained hundreds of workers for the violence
On Thursday, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions criticised the Karnataka government for failing to address the concerns of the workers at the Wistron facility. The union said that government was “turning a blind eye” to violations at the facility.
Nearly six contract workers at the facility told Reuters that they were paid less than a third of the monthly salary that they were promised. “They promised to give overtime to workers but this didn’t happen for at least three months,” one worker alleged.
Wistron, a Taiwanese contractor, is Apple’s top supplier in the world, and makes iPhone 7 and the second generation iPhone SE devices in the country. Following the violence, Apple had said it was investigating if its contractor flouted supplier guidelines.