Wistron factory reopening in India: Ball in Apple's court

The re-opening of the riot-hit factory of Apple assembler Wistron at Narasapura in Karnataka has been hanging fire for some time now. Violence due to labour problems broke out at the Indian unit of the Taiwanese company Wistron on the night of December 12, 2020.

The factory was immediately shut down with the hope that it will open in 15 days time.

Now after more than one-and-a-half months, things are still in the limbo. Sources connected to the company and the developments say that it is left to Apple, which had put Wistron on notice after the riots at its facility, to give the go-ahead for the Taiwanese company to resume operations.

Apple, it is learnt, will give the green signal only if it is clear that Wistron has adhered to all the prescribed protocols and norms for labour management.

Wistron, in a bid to speed up the process, has held talks with Karnataka officials to convey its earnestness and get an all-clear from the government using which it hopes to get clearance from Apple.

Karnataka govt confabs with staffing firms

Media reports say the Karnataka government has held talks with top executives of Wistron and six staffing firms. The latter are an important cog in the wheel as the labour supplied by these companies were upset with salary and unpaid wages and resorted to violence at the 44-acre facility at Narasapura, 60kms from Bengaluru. 

Karnataka government spoke to the six staffing companies --- Quess, Randstad, Adecco, Needs, Innov Source and Creative Engineers --- and sought to know whether their misgivings had been assuaged by Wistron. 

The government has made it clear that it was ready to do all that it can to see Wistron resumes operations at the earliest.

Staffing firms seem satisfied

As of now, police verification of contract employees is on. It is a time-consuming process. Once it is done, Karnataka government will check whether Wistron has settled the dues of employees. It will also find out whether the re-hiring protocol is being followed.

With the process fast-tracked, Wistron is now looking up to Apple to get down its team to India and clear the way for the plant's re-opening.  

Earlier, the findings of an Apple audit in the wake of violence at the Wistron plant showed violations of its ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’.

Our main objective is to make sure all the workers are treated with dignity and respect, and fully compensated promptly, Apple had said at that time. The plant employed around 12,000 people.

The staffing firms, for their part, seem satisfied now. "We have sorted out the problem in a calm way and thankfully there was no legal action against Quess. It's behind us now," said Suraj Moraje, CEO of Quess Corp, one of the staffing firms. There is now a clear understanding of how to work going forward, he added.

For the record, following the violence at the Wistron facility at Narasapura, the iPhone 12 mini production that should have commenced by now has been delayed.

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