Intense protests broke out at India’s Apple contracts Wistron, a Taiwanese manufacturer with a plant located in Kolar city of Karnataka, where the products are being assembled and sold in the region and surrounding areas.

The protests that broke out over the weekend because salaries being held from factory workers and it have been alleged that protests broke into riots and resulted in thousands of iPhones being looted from the factory.

Wistron estimates that the overall damage runs up to about Rs 437-crore (over $59 million). This includes damages to the factory assembly line, factory property, and thousands of stolen iPhones. The violence is reported to have lasted two hours, during which time the damage took place this Saturday, The Times of India reported.

Quoting State Labor Minister Shrvram Hebbar, reports said that Wistron contracted six companies to hire around 8,900 employees at the Kolar plant. These contractors were paid by the company for their laborers, but Wistron has had conflict with the contract laborers for as long as three months, according to the government. The Labor Minister condemned the violence, calling the company’s losses ‘unacceptable’.

Industries minister Jagadish Shettar attributed the violence to miscommunications between the three parties: Wistron, the labor contractors, and the employees. “What we hear is that the company had made payments to the labour contractors, who delayed payments to the employees. This is being verified,” the report quoted Shettar as having said.

The labor department has issued notices to Wistron, stating that the company had three days to pay the employees, whether its from Wistron or the labor contractors. Kolar police are investigating whether the violence was planned as intentional acts to destroy property.

Meanwhile,  the Wistron Corp has said that ransacking of an iPhone manufacturing facility in India caused up to T$200 million (US$7.12 million) in damage though production facilities were not as badly hit as reported.

The report said that protests turned violent and video from the scene showed people armed with rods and sticks smashing equipment and vandalising cars.

However, in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the company said major production facilities and warehouses had not been as seriously damaged as reported by local media, and that it was initially estimating losses at T$100-200 million.

The company is doing its utmost to get the plant back up and running, it said. Wistron shares fell around 2.5 per cent in early Asia trade, underperforming Taiwan’s broader stock market.

“The company has cooperated with the relevant authorities and the police investigation and continues to negotiate with the insurance company,” Wistron added, without elaborating.

Apple Inc said on Monday it was investigating whether Wistron had flouted supplier guidelines, reports mentioned.


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