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Wistron unit may restart in 15-20 days

By Samreen Ahmad
December 17, 2020 09:00 IST
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Wistron, which earlier pegged the losses at Rs 437 crore, later notified the Taiwan stock exchange that the total losses were around Rs 50 crore.
Samreen Ahmad reports.

IMAGE: Policemen stand guard outside a facility run by Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, in Narsapura, Bengaluru, December 14, 2020. Photograph: Reuters

The Wistron plant in Karnataka will be operational again in 15-20 days, state Labour Minister A S Hebbar told this correspondent on Wednesday.

"There is no clarity on whether the lapses in payments happened from the contractors' side or the company's side. Investigation is on and will be concluded soon," said Hebbar.

Taking note of the violence, the Centre on Wednesday asked the state government to complete an inquiry into the incident at the earliest.

'The secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade spoke to senior officers of the Karnataka government, advising them to complete the inquiry at the earliest, identify the culprits, look into wages and labour-related matters there, and also ensure that investor sentiment is not affected due to this one-off incident,' the DPIIT statement said.

The Karnataka government, which has swung into damagecontrol mode after the violence at the third-party iPhone manufacturing plant, has said it is working closely with the company's management to ensure operations resume at the earliest and genuine grievances of workers are addressed.

The state government condemned the violence and assured action against the wrongdoers. Close to 160 arrests have been made so far.

'Wistron is a very important project and a flag-bearer of India's ambitions to become a global hub for electronics manufacturing. The state government is committed to its success and business continuity,' it stated.

Wistron India Managing Director Sudipto Gupta in a letter to the state government earlier had said India was a 'very important' market for the company.

The firm said its management was in a state of shock, terming the incident 'unthinkable'.

The Taiwan-headquartered company, which had earlier pegged the losses at Rs 437 crore in a first information report, later notified the Taiwan stock exchange that the total losses were around Rs 50 crore.

On December 12 morning, several thousand workers broke windowpanes, automated teller machines, closed-circuit television cameras, vehicles, and other equipment at the Wistron campus in Kolar district, 60 kilometres from Bengaluru, on alleged salary deductions and untimely payment of wages.

There were allegations of looting of several thousand Apple iPhones, laptops, and TV sets from the premises.

"This could have been done to throw a spanner in the works, slowing the Make-In-India initiative. Some entities not interested in India gaining momentum in electronics manufacturing could have been the catalyst," said Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak Advisors.

The All India Trade Union Congress in a letter to the state government alleged there was a false anti-worker narrative being pushed and that workers were being harassed by police personnel.

'We believe that central trade unions should also be part of the (investigation) committee to represent the workers' perspective,' the AITUC letter stated.

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Samreen Ahmad
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