Arrests as Indian workers ransack iPhone plant over wages

Wistron, a Taiwanese-run iPhone factory at Narsapura, about 60km from Bangalore on December 13, 2020
State authorities condemned the “wanton” violence at the Wistron plant

Indian police have arrested more than 100 workers who went on a rampage over claims of unpaid wages at a Taiwanese-run iPhone factory near Bangalore, footage on social media showed smashed CCTV cameras and glass panels, broken lights and a car set on fire at Wistron Infocomm’s manufacturing facility.

The workers claim that they have not been fully paid for four months and are being forced to do extra shifts, Wistron said that it “pledged to follow local labour (laws)”. In a statement to the AFP news agency, the company did not refer directly to the workers’ complaints but said that “the incident was caused by people of unknown identities from outside who intruded into and damaged its facility with unclear intentions”. It said it would resume operations as soon as possible, Bangalore, the capital of southern Karnataka state, is India’s technology hub. The violence broke out as about 2,000 workers from the night shift were leaving the building at Narsapura on Saturday, the Times of India reported. Hundreds went on a rampage, ransacking the offices of senior executives, destroying furniture, assembly units and smashing glass panels and doors with rods.

Karnataka state’s deputy chief minister, CN Ashwathnarayan, condemned the “wanton” violence and said his government would ensure the situation was “resolved expeditiously”. “We will ensure that all workers’ rights are duly protected and all their dues are cleared,” he tweeted, one trade union leader told The Hindu newspaper that there was “brutal exploitation” at the plant. “The state government has allowed the company to flout basic rights,” said Satyanand, who uses only one name, the factory employs about 15,000 workers, according to local media, with most contracted via recruitment firms.

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