Activists and unions claim those detained by police had no role in the violence at Wistron

Activists and trade unions on Thursday questioned the detention of several contract workers claiming that their involvement in the recent violent protest at the Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing Ltd. facility in Narasapura in Kolar district is questionable. One of the people the police had detained was Kolar taluk president of Students’ Federation of India, Srikanth, who was interrogated on his alleged role before he was released on Thursday.

According to Varalakshmi from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Mr. Srikanth had no part to play in the protest at the facility, which manufactures iPhones for Apple. “Many of the workers have been detained for over 36 hours. There is no information of whether FIRs have been filed against them or if they have been sent to jail. Parents of these workers are just waiting outside the office of the Superintendent of Police in the hope of getting some information about their children,” she said.

Thousands of contract workers, allegedly led by an armed group of men who broke into the facility early Saturday morning, ransacked the premises demanding their wages, which were pending for three months. They were also protesting 12-hour-long shifts without overtime pay.

She said that most of those working at the plant were aged between 18 years and 24 years. “With colleges shut, students had joined the facility to earn what they could so that they could pay their fees. When the salaries were not being disbursed properly, students had formed a group on Whatspp. Here, they were discussing the next course of action, which included a protest at 11 a.m. on December 12,” she said.

However, the unrest started early on December 12 around 3 a.m. and took a violent turn.

Earlier in the day, members of the Joint Committee of Trade Unions said that Wistron had failed to adhere to labour laws while also blaming the government for failing to keep a check. “The factory did not provide minimum wages, overtime pay, or security measures for women workers in night shift,” they alleged and demanded that the government recognise this as a case of extreme violation of basic rights of workers.

They also demanded withdrawal of all cases against the workers and their release, apart from ensuring peace by taking the workers into confidence.

‘PM worried’

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said on Thursday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘very much worried’ about the violence at the plant.

“We have taken action. It is a very important foreign company and this (incident) should not have happened. The Prime Minister is also very much worried about this development,” Mr. Yediyurappa said. “…We will give full support to that company, without any problem let them continue production,” he added.

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Sagar Biswas

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