Apple To Probe Violence In Supplier Unit Near Bengaluru

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Bengaluru: US-based Apple has decided to probe if its Taiwanese contractor Wistron Corp breached supplier contract at its unit near Bengaluru which was the epicentre of largescale violence resulting in a cumulative loss of over Rs 440 crore.

“Apple is dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect. We have teams on the ground and immediately launched a detailed investigation at Wistron’s Narasapura facility in India,” a company source told the media.

“We are also dispatching additional Apple team members and auditors to the facility. Our teams are in close touch with the local authorities and we’re offering our full support to their investigation,” the source said.

In a statement, the company said it was “deeply shocked by the incident”.

On Saturday morning, largescale violence broke out at Wistron’s plant at Narsapura after a section of contract employees reportedly vandalised key units. They were protesting against delayed salary payment and overtime issues.

Industries minister Jagadish Shettar said the violence was, perhaps, fuelled by miscommunication between Wistron, the contractors and the employees. “What we hear is that the company had made payments to the labour contractors, who delayed payments to the employees. This is being verified,” he said.

The police have so far detained over 100 employees. The protesters reportedly smashed glass panes, damaged the assembly line and looted thousands of iPhones.  Two vehicles to move things within premises were brunt.

Wistron is one of Apple’s top global suppliers. The unit in Narsaapura in Kolar district, about 50 km from here, manufactures iPhone 7 and the second generation iPhone SE devices. The factory employs some 15,000 workers, although a majority of them are contracted via staffing firms.

“The accident was caused by unknown persons bursting in and causing damage to the plant with unclear intentions. The company always abides by the law, and fully supports and is cooperating with relevant authorities and police investigations,” the Taiwan-headquartered company said in a statement to the Taipei Stock Exchange.

In its statement it “pledged to follow local labour (laws) and other related regulations” to resume operations as soon as possible.

The attack has dented the image of Karnataka as a friendly investment destination. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan said that those who took “law into their own hand” shall be “dealt with very strongly”.

“At the same time, whatever justice has to prevail to the employees also will be taken care. The concern of both the employer and the employees will be effectively addressed,” he added.

According to the government, the dispute between Wistron and the contract labourers has been going on for the past three months.

Meanwhile, the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) said it is disheartening that people take law in their hands instead of going through the well-laid dispute resolution mechanism available under the law.

BCIC president TR Parasuraman said “It is very important for all the stakeholders to seriously introspect from these incidents and take quick and appropriate countermeasures so that these incidents never happen in the future.”

The incident occurred a day after a high-level Taiwanese delegation led by Ben Wang, Director General, Taipei Economic and Cultural Center on Friday told Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa that several of their companies were keen to engage with the government to further discuss their investment plans in the state.

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