Hundreds arrested as workers ransack Indian iPhone factory over ‘unpaid wages’

Company says damage worth millions of pounds caused to its facility by thousands of rioting workers  

Mayank Aggarwal
in Delhi
Monday 14 December 2020 10:58
Comments
Video purportedly shows pay protests at iPhone production plant run in India

Police in India have arrested at least 150 people are thousands of workers ransacked an iPhone factory in Bangalore over claims of unpaid wages.

The video of the incident on Saturday went viral on social media, as rampaging workers smashed CCTV cameras and glass doors and tried setting vehicles on fire at the manufacturing facility owned by Taiwan-headquartered Wistron InfoComm.

The company said iPhones and laptops were looted during the violence at the plant in Karnataka’s Kolar district, just outside the megacity and India’s tech capital, putting its losses at around £45m with damage to infrastructure and furniture included.

Workers have been arrested on charges including unlawful assembly and rioting, voluntarily causing hurt. The company is planning to resume operations as soon as possible.

The workers claimed that they have not been fully paid for months and have been forced to do extra shifts, even as the company said it had followed all the rules.  

According to the local police, there are about 7,000 to 8,000 workers in the factory who work in two shifts. The police authorities told India Today they were using CCTV and eye witness reports to try and identify those involved on Saturday.

The authorities in Karnataka state have strongly condemned the incident.  

“It is imperative that nobody takes the law in their own hands. There are appropriate forums to resolve such issues without indulging in this wonton violence. Have spoken to the SP (Superintendent of Police), Kolar to ensure that all measures are taken to bring the situation under immediate control and the culprits are identified,” tweeted Karnataka’s deputy chief minister Dr Ashwathnarayan CN.

He promised strict action against those involved and said the government will do what is necessary to ensure that the situation is resolved “expeditiously and all stakeholders and their concerns are allayed”.

“We will ensure that all workers' rights are duly protected and all their dues are cleared,” he said. 

In September, Apple launched its Apple Store online in India for the first time, a country where it has been operating for more than 20 years. India is increasingly becoming an important market for Apple, and it claims to support almost 900,000 jobs across the country. 

Bangalore is also home to Apple’s app design and development accelerator in India.

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