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Riots break out at iPhone factory in India after workers claim they weren’t paid fairly (or at all)

The company claims there was $60 million worth of damages.

apple factory in india
Image: India Times

An Apple manufacturing plant near Bengaluru, India, was heavily vandalized by its employees. Based on several local reports and videos, a riot broke out on Saturday, when about 2,000 workers were leaving the factory after completing their night shift.

Wistron Corporation is the Taiwanese company that runs the iPhone manufacturing plant, and its employees attacked the facilities and property. According to the company, the riot resulted in damages worth $60 million. 

The reason almost 2,000 of their workforce rioted their place of employment was due to unpaid wages, workers forced to take extra shifts, and salary reduction. 

An employee that wanted to stay anonymous spoke to Vice and stated that workers were angry because, month after month, the company didn’t make the payment at the promised level. At the same time, the company forced them to work extra hours. 

In a separate statement for the Times of India, an anonymous employee explained how the company promised an engineering graduate a salary of Rs 21,000 per month.

However, the company soon reduced the salary to Rs 18,000, and then again to Rs 12,000. At the same time, non-engineering jobs got reduced to just Rs 8,000. There were even some talks among the factory workers that some have received only Rs 500 on their accounts. That equates to about $7 USD. 

According to one of the employees, their anger turned into violence once their shift ended

Soon after the riots broke out, the police arrive on the scene. Local police arrested more than 149 workers because of the rioting and the caused damages.

The Secretary of the Bengaluru chapter of the All India Trade Union Congress was one of the first to come out with a statement saying that both the government and the management should be held accountable for what happened at Wistron. He even compared the Wistrom facility with a sweatshop and that the violence directly resulted from “brutal exploitation of workers.”

For a long time, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook advocated for the idea to expand their business operations in India. Four years ago, Wistron received 43 acres at Narasupra to build its factory to make Apple products. In return, Wistron promised to invest nearly $400,000 and create 10,000 new job openings. The Wistron factory produced various Apple products, from biotech devices to IoT products, and smartphones such as the iPhone SE

On December 14th, two days after the incident, Apple announced that it would send a team to determine whether its Taiwanese contractor Wistron didn’t follow the given supplier guidelines.

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