Rs 437 crore loss...looting of Apple iPhones and damaging properties! What happened at Wistron?

In an appalling development, the Karnataka based Wistron Corporation had witnessed how the violence stirred by the section of workers over salary issues had eventually ended up to be the unprecedented loot and arsons as the company, which is the contract manufacturer for Apple Inc, had suffered losses worth over Rs 437 crore as a large number of employees had allegedly carried out the loot and arson that resulted in swindling and damaging the properties. 

Wistron manufacturing plant sits in Kolar district and it has been one of the contractors manufacturing Apple iPhones. A large number of employees had gathered before the plant and protested against the company over the wage-related issues on Saturday. However, the protests later turned into violence with many protestors were allegedly involved in arson. The violence had happened on Saturday during which they had damaged buildings, costly equipment including machines and computers, and vehicles. They torched the vehicles on fire. 

During the violence that was stirred by a section of workers, the company alleged that it had suffered losses worth Rs 437 crore. The company had expressed shock over the incident and the management of the plant had filed a complaint at the Vemagal police station. In the complaint, the company's executive TD Prashanth has stated that the office equipment, mobile phones, machinery, and related equipment worth Rs 412.5 crore were lost. 

Along with these, infrastructure worth Rs 10 crore, Rs 60 lakh worth of cars and golf carts, smartphones, and other gadgets worth Rs 1.5 crore suffered damage, were stolen or lost. According to the complaint, the management said that around 5,000 contract laborers and about 2,000 unknown miscreants had carried out the violence and arson in looting the products including iPhones, and damaging the properties. 

The managing director of Wistron Smart Devices, in a statement, said, "We are deeply shocked by events at our Narasapura facility. We follow the law and order and are supporting the authorities with their investigation. The safety and well-being of our team members are always our top priority". After the development came to light, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Ashwath Narayan had strongly condemned the incident and said that stern action would be taken against the perpetrators. 

According to reports, following the complaint, the police had filed FIR under sections 143- the punishment of unlawful assembly, 147 - punishment for rioting, 148- rioting, 323 - voluntarily causing hurt, 395- Punishment for dacoity, 435 - mischief by fire or explosive substance, 448- punishment for trespass, 427 - mischief causing damage, 504- insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace, and 506- punishment for criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code. 

The FIR reads that the contract workers of the plant had unfolded violence at around 6 pm on December 12 and they entered into the plant with rods and damaged the properties of the company. They advanced their violence and looted phones and valuables while they had destroyed electronic equipment. Along with equipment, computers, CCTV's, printers, and hundreds of smartphones were damaged. According to reports, Apple Inc is also probing to ascertain if Wistron violated its supplier guidelines. 

The guidelines of the US-based company mandate that third-party staffing agencies pay workers on time and as per rules and provide them other benefits. The state government has deployed police personnel to the plant to curb further such events as the incident had shocked the nation due to its unprecedented fashion of large-scale looting and destruction worth Rs 437 crore. 

The reports say that the plant is run by the Taiwan-based company and it manufactures iPhones. Along with iPhones,  Wistron also manufactures IT products for Lenovo and Microsoft. The violence had happened when the workers were protesting over unpaid salaries. They say that they weren't being paid what they were promised by the company at the time of joining and the company has also been reducing the salaries and some workers had alleged that they haven't paid for four months. On the other hand, the political leaders have been urging the government to conduct a fair and thorough probe as they said that they fear the incident would adversely affect the investments in the state.