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Wistron fires executive over violence at Karnataka unit; Apple puts firm on probation

Wistron fires executive over violence at Karnataka unit; Apple puts firm on probation

New Delhi: A week after violence broke out at its Narasapura facility in Karnataka, contract manufacturer Wistron on Saturday said it has fired its vice-president who was heading India operations even as iPhone maker Apple placed the Taiwanese firm on probation.

Wistron, which assembles the latest version of the iPhone SE at the violence-hit plant, admitted that there were faults in its wage payment processes.

A section of workers at Wistron Corporation's facility in Narasapura Industrial Area in Kolar district near Bengaluru went on a rampage last week over non-payment of their wages.

"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," Apple's contract manufacturer, Wistron, said in a statement.

While Wistron did not name the executive removed, sources said Vincent Lee has been fired.

Wistron said the company has been investigating the matter and has "found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time".

"We deeply regret this and apologise to all of our workers. This is a new facility and we recognise that we made mistakes as we expanded," Wistron said.

The Taiwanese company noted that some of the processes put in place to manage labour agencies and payments, need to be strengthened and upgraded and that it is taking "immediate action to correct this, including disciplinary action".

Wistron has increased its headcount from 2,000 in the middle of this year to around 9,000 recently.

"Our top priority is to ensure all workers are fully compensated immediately and we are working hard to achieve that," Wistron said.

The company said it has established an employee assistance programme for workers at the facility and has 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.

Apple, in a separate statement, said it has placed Wistron on probation and that the contract manufacturer will not receive any new business from the US-based company before corrective actions are completed. Apple is also undertaking a detailed investigation in this matter.

Apple said while these investigations are ongoing, preliminary findings indicate violations of its Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper working hour management processes that led to payment delays for some workers in October and November.

"We have placed Wistron on probation and they will not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective actions. 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," Apple said.

Over 160 people have been arrested in connection with the violence during which stones were hurled, windows and doors were broken and vehicles in the parking lot were overturned and set on fire. Video footage of the attack had flooded social media.

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