Government cites labor violations at iPhone factory where riot broke out

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Foxconn moving additional iPhone production to India as coronavirus disrupts work
A riot broke at factory in India last weekend.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The state government in Karnataka, India found multiple labor law violations at the iPhone factory where workers rioted last weekend, a new report claims.

The riot took place at a Wistron factory. It resulted in $7 million of damage, with thousands of iPhones stolen during the protest. The government report — from the Department of Factories, Boilers, Industrial Safety and Health — says that underpayment of wages, poor factory conditions, and irregular hours were all common at the plant.

Around 150 workers were arrested as a result of the rioting. Charges included unlawful assembly and rioting. Police are reportedly investigating another 5,000 people as a result of the incident.

The report says that Wistron’s HR department didn’t know enough about local labor regulations. It broke rules such as employing women to work on night shifts, which is illegal without the proper permissions. It also didn’t have the personnel to manage the total 10,500 workers at the factory. Of these, 8,500 were contractors not on full-time contracts.

“It is fairly a new establishment which became operational only in September and because of that, the system may not be fully in place,” a senior official with Karnataka’s labour department said. “But neither the management nor the workmen have ever approached the labour department before this issue…they could have taken guidance [before the crisis].”

Wistron managing director Sudipto Gupta sent a letter to the Karnataka government saying that the company is working with authorities on the issue.

Apple started producing iPhones in India in 2017. It started with the iPhone SE, then expanded to other models. Wistron was the first manufacturer to set up an Apple plant in the country. This comes as Apple tries to move beyond manufacturing in China.

Source: South China Morning Post