iPhone assembly suspended at Indian plant following riot

Contract manufacturer Wistron has confirmed reports that iPhone assembly was suspended following a riot at its plant in Bangalore, India. Video footage (below) shows people attacking assembly units, smashing windows, overturning cars, and starting a fire.

The violent protest, which took place on Saturday, was said to be over underpaid wages by Wistron. Multiple reports say that the riot involved almost 2,000 workers, with more than 100 of them arrested by police …

The Times of India reports.

A majority of the nearly 2,000 employees, who were exiting the facility after completing their night-shift, went on rampage destroying the company’s furniture, assembly units and even attempted to set fire to vehicles. Senior police officers along with additional personnel from Kolar district have rushed to the spot.

Though Wistron is yet to comment on the violence, sources told The Times of India that the employee unrest was triggered by salary remittances made to them. Sources said the employees were angry that the company was not paying the amount that was promised to them at the time of joining.

“While an engineering graduate was promised Rs 21,000 per month, his/her salary had reduced to Rs 16,000 and, subsequently, to Rs 12,000 in the recent months. Non-engineering graduates’ monthly salary had reduced to Rs 8,000. The salary amount being credited to our accounts have been reducing and it was frustrating to see this,” an employee alleged.

On Friday night, the employees started discussing about their salaries on their floors and some alleged that they had received only low as as RS 500 in their bank accounts. The anger turned into violence by the time the shift ended, the employee added.

Several Twitter accounts have video of the event.

BBC News reports that workers say they have been underpaid for four months and that the riot began after a meeting with HR failed to resolve the dispute.

Wistron made a rather implausible claim that the rioters were not employees, but did admit that iPhone assembly has been suspended due to the damage done.

In a statement to the AFP news agency, the company did not refer directly to the workers’ complaints but said that “the incident was caused by people of unknown identities from outside who intruded into and damaged its facility with unclear intentions”.

It said it would resume operations as soon as possible.

Wistron employees around 15,000 workers at the plant. The regional government condemned the violence but said that it would ensure the correct wages are paid.

Karnataka state’s deputy chief minister, CN Ashwathnarayan, condemned the “wanton” violence and said his government would ensure the situation was “resolved expeditiously”.

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

Apple had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing. The company was last week accused of being complicit in labor law violations in China.

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