Over 100 people have been arrested in connection with the violence at the iPhone manufacturing plant run by Taiwan-based Wistron Corporation near Bengaluru, which resulted in a loss of approximately Rs 440cr.
Workers claim they haven’t been fully paid for four months and are also being forced to do extra shifts.
In a statement to the AFP news agency, the company, while not referring to the workers’ complaint, said “the incident was caused by people of unknown identities from outside who intruded into and damaged its facility with unclear intentions”.
Violence broke out at the manufacturing plant on Saturday, with workers looting thousands of iPhones. Visuals on social media showed smashed CCTV cameras and glass panels along with broken lights and a car set on fire at the unit around 60km from Bengaluru.
The Taiwanese technology giant situated in Narasapura Industrial Area in Kolar district manufactures Apple iPhones and other IoT products.
Narsapura police were called in to control the situation and they resorted to baton-charge to disperse the workers.
Karnataka deputy chief minister C Ashwathnarayan condemned the violence in a series of tweets. He wrote: “Strongly condemn the incident of violence at Wistron’s factory in Narasapura, Kolar. 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.”
However, he also promised that all workers’ rights will be “duly protected” and their dues will be cleared.
The clash between workers and the company has been going on for three months. Apple or Wistron have not yet responded to the incident.
Industry experts suggest the development will have a minor impact on the US technology giant Apple. An industry source told PTI: “iPhone production will have minor impact due to the violence. Only the iPhone SE 2020 is being made by Wistron in its Kolar’s plant. Enough stock is available in the market. Wistron has other plants in India where it may shift part of the production if its factory remains affected.”
Apple began assembling iPhones in India in 2017. However, it only has about a 1 per cent share of the total smartphone market in the country, since the iPhone’s price tag puts it out of reach for many Indian consumers.
India was the second-biggest smartphone market in the world in 2019.Wistron opened the plant near Bengaluru earlier this year, part of a multimillion dollar investment by the company in India.