Apple Supplier Wistron Apologises To Workers In Karnataka, Removes India Boss

Bengaluru: Nearly a week after violence erupted at a Karnataka factory owned by Taiwan-based Wistron Pvt Ltd that manufactures Apple iPhones, the firm today removed its top executive who oversaw India operations. “Safety and wellbeing of our team members is always our top priority,” Wistron said, admitting that “some workers were not paid correctly, or on time”. In a statement, Apple said the supplier has been put on probation and it “will not receive any new business before completing corrective actions”.

Last Saturday, several thousand contract workers at the factory near Bengaluru – angered over alleged non-payment of wages – destroyed property and factory gear; the Apple supplier had put the damages at $7.12 million. Earlier this week, the centre asked the state to look into wage and labour-related disputes, and ensure that investor sentiment is not affected as a result of the violence.

Today, the Taiwan firm said in a statement: “We are removing the Vice President who oversees our business in India. We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again.”

“Safety and wellbeing of our team members is always our top priority and core value at Wistron. Since unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we’ve found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret and apologize to all of our workers,” news agency ANI quoted the firm as saying.

“Our top priority is to ensure all workers are fully compensated immediately and we’re working hard to achieve that. We’ve established an employee assistance program for workers at the facility. We’re working diligently on corrective actions to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” it further said.

Wistron is one of Apple’s top global suppliers. In a statement, the tech giant today said it is placing the firm on probation. “Our preliminary findings indicate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper working hour management processes. This led to payment delays for some workers in October and November,” the statement read.
“We are very disappointed and taking immediate steps to address these issues. Wistron has taken disciplinary action and is restructuring their recruitment and payroll teams in Narasapura. They have also set up an employee assistance program and a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, and English to ensure all workers at the facility can voice any concerns, anonymously. Our main objective is to make sure all the workers are treated with dignity and respect, and fully compensated promptly,” it underlined.

A government inspection revealed the Apple supplier could not cope up with the rapid scaling up of manpower and breached several laws, news agency Reuters reported. The manpower at this plant – which was recently set up – rose to 10,500 workers from the permitted 5,000 in a short span of time, according to a Karnataka factories department report, Reuters quoted the report as saying.

“Though 10,500 workers are employed in the factory the HR department has not been adequately set up with personnel of sound knowledge of labour laws”.

Wistron introduced 12-hour shifts from the earlier eight-hour shifts in October but failed to properly address “the confusion in the minds of the workers” about their new wages inclusive of overtime, the report noted.

(With inputs from Reuters, ANI)