Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister C. Ashwathnarayan, who is also the IT minister, on Saturday condemned the violence at Wistron Corporation’s manufacturing plant at Narasapura near Bengaluru. Terming it an unfortunate incident, he tweeted that it is imperative that nobody takes the law into their hands and there are appropriate forums to resolve such issues without indulging in this wanton violence.
According to media reports, the majority of the 8,000 workers at the Taiwanese firm's manufacturing plant are contractual workers and the violence was due to the non-payment of the promised salaries to their workers. The issue had been going on for the last couple of months. Sources point out that majority workers had been promised a salary of around Rs 16,000 per month for about eight hours of work, but were being paid only Rs 12,000 for 12 hours. Reports said 60 to 70 workers were severely beaten up by the police. Around 2,000 workers post their night shift had resorted to violence at the plant damaging office property and vehicles.
Ashwathnarayan said he had already spoken to the Superintendent of Police of Kolar district under which Narasapura comes to ensure that all measures were being taken to bring the situation under immediate control and the culprits were identified. He said strict action would be taken under the law against the errant elements. He also said the state government will see that the situation is resolved expeditiously and all stakeholders and their concerns are allayed and will ensure that all workers' rights are duly protected and all their dues are cleared.
Minister for Major and Medium Industries Jagadish Shettar said that the state government will give necessary protection to the Taiwanese company. Regretting the incident, the minister said that it is not right to take the law into one’s hand no matter what the problem was. “The state government has taken steps to develop industries in the state and is committed to the protection of the worker’s right. The problem could have been resolved if it had been adequately addressed as per law," he said.
Shettar said the government is ready to provide adequate protection to companies that have invested in the state. “We will take stringent measures to prevent such unpleasant events from recurring. We have already spoken with the District Superintendents of Kolar District and the Superintendents of Police and have been instructed to provide necessary protection," he added.
When contacted by THE WEEK, Sudipto Gupta, Managing Director at Wistron, refused to comment on the issue.
However, in a statement, M.D. Harigovind, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in Bengaluru said the violence at Wistron plant is a direct result of the brutal exploitation of workers and sweatshop like conditions created by a company, manufacturing the most expensive mobile phones.
“The state government had allowed the company to flout basic rights of the workers like payment of wages and working hours. In the absence of any regulation, anarchy has prevailed and both the management and the state government should be held accountable. Harassment of the workers by police should be stopped immediately and corrective measures to ensure regulation of working conditions should be undertaken immediately,” remarked Harigovind.
The Wistron plant that manufactures iPhone had received a total investment of Rs 2,900 crore. The company had acquired 43 acres in Narasapura, of which around 40 per cent of space has been utilised by the manufacturer.