Apple said it was very disappointed with what happened and its preliminary findings indicate violations of its Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper working hour management processes. “We have placed Wistron on probation and they will not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective actions,” it said.
Sources told TOI that Wistron has sacked Vincent Lee, vice-president of the innovation business group in Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing India. Lee, who is based in Taiwan, had called upon Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa earlier this month when he visited Bengaluru.
Wistron, which makes iPhones and other products, said in its statement that the Narasapura facility is new “and we recognise that we made mistakes as we expanded.” It said that some of the processes put in place to manage labour agencies and payments need to be strengthened and upgraded. “We are taking immediate action to correct this, including disciplinary action. We are removing the vice-president who oversees our business in India. We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again,” it said.
The Karnataka labour department’s investigation is said to have found that Wistron was not maintaining proper appointment and employment details, it was not maintaining up-to-date salary and attendance records, and it was asking workers to do 12-hour shifts.
Wistron, in a statement sent to TOI, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our team members is always our top priority and a core value for everyone at Wistron. Since the unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we have been investigating and have found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret this and apologize to all of our workers.”
The company said it has established an employee assistance program for workers at the facility. “We also set up a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English to ensure all workers can voice any concerns they may have anonymously,” it said.
Apple said it was taking immediate steps to address all issues. “Wistron has taken disciplinary action and is restructuring their recruitment and payroll teams in Narasapura…Apple employees, along with independent auditors, will monitor their progress. Our main objective is to make sure all the workers are treated with dignity and respect, and fully compensated promptly,” it said.
Wistron had committed to invest Rs 3,000 crore in the 43-acre Narasapura land. Much of its hiring was done through staffing solutions firms including Randstad, Quess Corp, Innovsource, Adecco India and Creative Engineers. Many of those hired through these agencies are on contract. Sources told TOI that there were procedural lapses in the onboarding process and non-payment of dues on the part of four of these agencies. The hiring rate was intense, with headcount rising from 1,500 to 12,000 in three months. Wistron pays the agencies after they produce invoices on the payment of salaries.
Wistron is said to have suffered a loss of between Rs 40 and 50 crore in the violence. In the police complaint, a figure of Rs 437 crore was mentioned as the loss suffered. A source told TOI that the company had inadvertently provided the sum insured for the facility.