K’taka govt urges iPhone manufacturer to hire locals on priority basis

The violence at the Taiwanese- headquartered Wistron Infocomm (Kolar) plant that manufactured iPhones for Apple came as a aftermath of prolonged labour exploitation that went unaddressed. Representative photo: iStock

The Karnataka government has urged Apple’s leading manufacturer Wistron Technologies to give top priority to locals in jobs, generated for its upcoming facility in Kolar district, said S Muniswamy, the Lok Sabha MP from the district on Monday (November 5).

Wistron Technologies, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer of iPhones for Apple Inc, has plans to invest ₹3,300 crore in the state in a phased manner. It is setting up a plant over 43 acres of land near Narsapura, Kolar, about 70 km off the state capital. Besides, the company has also evinced interest in setting up its research and development facility in the city. The state government has offered a space to Wistron Technologies for its plant at the aerospace park near the international airport in Bengaluru.

Last year, A Gururaj, the managing director of Wistron Technologies had said that the proposed factory will be one of the biggest of its kind in the country and will manufacture selected models of Apple iPhone and related components. The company is likely to create 10,500 jobs in the coming months. Both, the previous Kumaraswamy government which signed the MOU and the present BJP-led government have repeatedly stressed the need to create job for locals.

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The company, which had initial plans to invest ₹900 crore in the first phase has now increased its budget to ₹1,600 crore and further to ₹3,300 crore in subsequent phases.

The Karnataka cabinet last week decided to amend Karnataka Industrial (Standing Orders) Rules, 1961, to make industrial units give primacy to Kannadigas in blue-collar jobs. The amendment, a watered-down version of the previous government which said it would reserve 100 per cent jobs in group C and D category to locals, will be applicable to all industries including IT sector.

Deputy chief minister Ashwath Narayan who holds the IT portfolio, recently said the Taiwanese giant will reduce its proposed investment outside India and direct most of it to Karnataka.

The Wistron plant in Peenya industrial area in Bengaluru currently assembles iPhone SE and the iPhone 6S. The company is in the process of expanding the factory on the same premises to scale up production.

Mobile manufacturers are setting up manufacturing units in India to cut cost. Last year, Apple’s rival Samsung opened the biggest manufacturing unit in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. And Chinese giant Vivo is setting up a new plant in Noida which will be operational in a month.

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