A riot on Saturday broke out at an iPhone factory run by Wistron Corp (緯創) in India, reportedly over unpaid wages, although the company had commissioned employment agencies to pay workers, a source said.
Reports in Indian media that Wistron was paying workers less than the agreed upon amount were inaccurate, said a Taiwanese businessperson with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named to protect their identity.
Wistron had commissioned five staffing agencies to recruit workers and had made full payments to the firms on time, the source said.
The riots at the factory might have resulted from disputes among the contracted labor agencies and employees, but there are some issues that are not clear, the source said.
It is unclear whether the violence at the plant was instigated by employment agencies or Indian factory managers in an attempt to extort the company, taking advantage of its unfamiliarity with the laws and regulations in the country, the source said.
The riots broke out when about 2,000 workers at Wistron’s new factory in the Narasapura industrial area in Karnataka State ended their night shift by destroying furniture and factory assembly units, and setting vehicles on fire, Indian media reports said.
Police rushed to the scene and broke up the riots, arresting about 100 people, they said.
The Times of India reported that the workers were angry because they were not being paid the wages that had been agreed on when they were recruited.
Wistron said the incident was not a strike, but rather a criminal incident, as the factory was targeted by criminals.
The rioters were outsiders, not factory employees, a Wistron representative said, adding that the Indian government was also investigating the incident.
Some office furniture at the factory was damaged, but equipment on the main assembly lines and the warehouses remained intact, the representative said.
“We are deeply shocked by the events at our Narasapura facility,” Wistron said in a regulatory filing yesterday. “We follow the law and are supporting the authorities with their investigation.”
The company said the safety and wellbeing of its team members are always its top priority, and promised to follow local labor regulations and resume operations as soon as possible.
“We will collaborate with related parties to provide any help needed for the employees,” it said.
Ben Wang (王永平), head of the Taiwan office in Chennai, India, yesterday said that he had discussed the matter with Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and the state’s Minister for Large and Medium Scale Industries Jagadish Shettar.
State authorities promised that it would ensure the safety of Taiwanese businesses and expedite an investigation into the riots, Wang said.
They also said that the incident would not become a deterrent to Taiwanese investment in the state, said Wang, who is visiting the state’s capital, Bangalore, at the invitation of the Karnataka government.
Shettar on Saturday said the state government would provide Wistron and other foreign companies invested in the state with necessary protection.
The incident “occurred over the nonpayment of salary due for several months,” the minister said in a press statement. “The protest against the management turned violent after some people started vandalizing the office, setting vehicles on fire, pelting stones and setting the company’s board on fire.”
Expressing regret over the incident, Shettar said it is not right to take the law into one’s own hand, no matter the problem.
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