Violence erupted at Wistron’s iPhone manufacturing plant at Narasapura in Kolar district near Bengaluru on Saturday over delayed salary payments.
The incident happened at 6.30 am on Saturday after nearly 2,000 workers came to the end of their night-shift. In video footage of the incident, workers could be seen smashing the offices of senior executives, the factory’s front lobby and flipping parked cars.
Sources said that the incident was triggered by weeks of smouldering unrest over lack of payments. “The issue has been festering for about 8 to 10 weeks, during which employees were subject to arbitrary changes to their work contracts. About 90 per cent of the 8,000-strong workforce are contractual workers with a promised salary of Rs 16,000 per month for an 8-hour work shift. But over the last few months many were being paid only Rs 12,000 and were also told to work for up to 12 hours a day,” the source said.
“People who complained to the management were arbitrarily fired,” the source added.
What precisely catalyzed the spontaneous morning violence is still unclear. A source said that most of the workforce dispersed after police allegedly lathi-charged the protesters. “Some 60 to 70 employees have been caught by police and have been badly beaten. There is a climate of fear at the Narasapura Industrial Area,” a source said.
M D Harigovind, General Secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) charged Wistron with exploitative practices.
“The industrial violence in Wistron is a direct result of the brutal exploitation of workers and sweatshop-like conditions created by a company, manufacturing the most expensive mobile phones. The state government has allowed the company to flout the basic rights of the workers like payment of wages and working hours. In the absence of any regulation, anarchy has prevailed,” he said.