Karnataka violence: Workers at iPhone plant in Karnataka’s Kolar go on rampage | Bengaluru News – Times of India


KOLAR/BENGALURU: Violence broke out at Wistron Corp’s manufacturing plant, which makes iPhones, at the Narasapura industrial estate in Kolar district in the early hours of Saturday as workers ransacked the premises demanding payment of salaries on time along with overtime allowance.

Two battery-powered buggies were set on fire, six vehicles were damaged and glass windows and doors of the facility were smashed by iron rod-wielding workers. While a few security guards and floor managers were manhandled by workers, there were no casualties. The violence, which comes at a time when the state is making all efforts to woo investors, has put the government in an embarrassing situation.
Deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan said: “We strongly condemn the violence at Wistron’s factory in Narasapura. Strict action will be taken under the law against errant elements.”
Police said they have arrested 125 workers for indulging in vandalism and arson and are identifying more who resorted to violence.
Kolar deputy commissioner C Sathyabhama said the unrest was triggered by the failure of labour contractors to pay workers on time as well as the amount promised.
Trouble started around 5.45am when employees on the night shift were exiting the premises and those on the day shift were all set to enter.
Made to work more for less pay: Staffer
Though Wistron India MD Sudipto Gupta refused to comment, sources said workers were angry that the firm was not paying the amount promised at the time of recruitment.
“While an engineering graduate was promised Rs 21,000 per month, his salary had reduced to Rs 16,000 and, then to Rs 12,000. Diploma holders were promised Rs 11,000 and were getting around Rs 5,000. There was no consistency with regard to the date on which salaries were getting credited into bank accounts,” said an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“While those in managerial positions worked for 8 hours, workers were clocking 12 hours a day and not being paid OT,” the employee alleged. The unrest has been brewing for a few months. Employees complained about poor working conditions and food at the facility, sources said.
On what triggered the violence, another employee said: “We got our salaries on Friday and everyone started discussing it. We felt we were made to work more for less pay. This led to resentment and when the shifts changed, a few workers lost their cool. There were reports of a verbal argument between an HR manager and a worker over wages and that triggered other contract staff to go on the rampage.”
Other sources said Wistron and a recruitment agency had differences over wages that led to the conflict. By the time cops were alerted, the workers had caused considerable damage. Sources said a few consignments of smartphones and other electronic gadgets were looted by workers. The facility has been shut for a week until audits are over.

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Sagar Biswas

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