After riots, iPhone maker says it “deeply regrets” exploiting workers | GeekComparison

Buses surround a wide glass and steel building.
enlarge / The Wistron factory in Narsapura, India.

Earlier this month, workers at a Wistron iPhone factory in India broke out in violent protests causing up to $7 million in damage. Employees said they weren’t getting paid what they were promised, and in retaliation they started vandalizing the place. Apple said it would investigate. Apple came to a tentative conclusion this weekend. In a statement (fully available from the HindustanTimes), Apple said it had found “violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct” and would give Wistron a “probation period.”

Apple’s findings support employee complaints, which stated that Wistron did not pay the salaries it promised when it hired employees. Apple’s take on the situation reads: “Our preliminary findings indicate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper time management processes. This led to payment delays for some employees in October and November.”

The company continued, “We have piloted Wistron and they will not receive new orders from Apple until corrective action has been taken. Apple employees, along with independent auditors, will monitor their progress. Our main goal is to ensure that all employees will be treated with dignity and respect and will be immediately fully compensated.”

After he was caught exploiting workers, a Wistron spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal: “We deeply regret this and apologize to all our workers.” The Journal reports that the company has “removed” its vice president of affairs in India and set up an anonymous complaint line.

India is the world’s second largest smartphone market after China, but China is still home to the bulk of the phone industry, fueling India’s $40 billion (formerly $60 billion) annual trade deficit with China. The Indian government wants to use this market power to encourage foreign investment in India and has encouraged local production by imposing heavy import duties and making it more difficult for workers to join unions.

An on-site report from This Week in Asia makes it sound like there’s still a lot of work to be done for workers’ rights at the Wistron factory. The site reports that factory workers still refuse to speak to the media for fear of repercussions and quotes Karnataka Prime Minister BS Yediyurappa as saying: “Protecting the interests of foreign investors is very important to us.”

Leave a Comment