Wistron plant may take 2 more weeks to resume: Labour Minister

Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar spoke to The Federal and said the company submitted a report to the government and sought two more weeks to reopen the facility

Wistron’s trouble proved an opportunity for its Taiwanese competitors--Foxconn and Pegatron. Photo: Twitter

The violence-struck Wistron facility in Kolar, which produces iPhones for Apple, may take two more weeks to reopen with a delay in completion of the internal audits and procurement of assets.

The company, which shut the plant, located about 60 kms from Bangalore, after enraged employees and outsiders resorted to vandalism following wage disputes, was supposed to reopen by January 1.

Employees were hopeful that the company would resume work without delays after the government assured them to intervene and settle the wage disputes. 

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Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar spoke to The Federal and said the company submitted a report to the government and sought two more weeks to reopen the facility. He said there were delays in procurement of damaged equipment.

“Restoration works are complete to the extent of 60-70%. Delays in sourcing the new machines affected the reopening of the facility, which will now happen by Febuary 1,” Hebbar said.

Meanwhile, on the apprehension of the workers who are jobless without wages since December, the minister said the company submitted a report saying all the pending wages have been cleared and that the company is negotiating on payment during the lockdown period. 

“Regarding the payment of wages during the lockdown (after December 12), the company is negotiating with the employees. The government requested them to pay full wages but they have sought some concession,” Hebbar said.  

Following an FIR against 7000 unknown people, including 5000 contract workers, three different police officers are conducting the investigation regarding the violence that erupted on December 12. While they arrested close to 160 workers, until the end of December 2020, many employees are let off with no proof of them engaging in violence. 

One of the workers in the factory said the workers are now being asked to get a police verification letter. The employee will have to get it certified from the police that they were not engaged in the violence and they can rejoin the company. 

“The process of police verification will take time and the company will resume work in a phased manner,” one of the seven sub-contractors engaged in the hiring process said.

Also read: Centre, K’taka scurry to protect investor sentiment after iPhone facility trouble

Both iPhone and Wistron had acknowledged that there were lapses in payment to workers at the facility. The company halted the production of products like iPhone-7 and iPhone SE at the Kolar plant. 

Meanwhile, Wistron’s trouble proved an opportunity for its Taiwanese competitors–Foxconn and Pegatron, which are investing further in India to ramp up their production capacity in India.

Pegatron registered a company in Chennai as a subsidiary and started building the factory at Mahindra World City near Chennai. The company committed to investing Rs 1100 crore in India over the next five years. The company may start production in India by mid-2021. 

Meanwhile, Foxconn which already has a plant in Chennai (Sriperambadur) is said to ramp up its existing capacity to accommodate 6,000 more employees and increase production. 

Also read: Swamped with orders, Tesla aims to expand factories in 2021

According to reports, the company plans to invest $1 billion (Rs 7,000 crore) to expand a factory in Chennai. The move will help the company gradually shift its production from China to India.

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