Apple's supplier Wistron violated labour laws in India


Apple's supplier Wistron violated labour laws in India

Background

• Wistron is a Taiwanese based contract manufacturer assembling iPhoneSE for Apple in a facility in Naraspura Industrial Area near Bangalore.

• Wistron hires employees through staffing firms and makes payments to these firms who are in turn responsible for paying the employees.

• On 12th December, 2020, thousands of employees vandalized the facility at Naraspura, stole iPhonesand even set vehicles on fire after completing their night-shift over alleged non-payment of wages and long working hours. As per reports, police have arrested around 160 people so far. The site has been shut since then but will probably restart its functions in a few days.

• A report submitted by The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) stated terrible working conditions, a 12-hour work shift, no grievance redressal, non-payment of the promised amount for months at the facility.

What all provisions can come into play?

Wistron can be held liable under Payment of wages act, 1936 as the workers have said that they did not receive payments on time. Section 5 of the act deals with timely payment of wages to workers.

Wistron had hired workers through six contractors and therefore the following provision of Contract Labour - Regulation and Abolition Act, 1970 can be applied:

• Section 21 (Responsibility for payment of wages) states that the contractor shall be responsible to make payments to the workers employed by him. It also states that if a contractor fails to make payment on time then the principal employer shall be liable to make payment to labours employed by the contractor and later recover the same from the contractors.

What all provisions can come into play? (SLIDE 4, Followed by text)

The workers at Wistron have said that they had to work for 12 hours a day and therefore the following provision of the Factories, 1948 can be applied:

• Section 59 (extra wages for overtime) states that where a worker works for 9 hours a day in a factory or for more than 48-hours in a week he shall be entitles to overtime wages which will be twice the ordinary rate of wages.

• Section 51 and 54 have specified weekly (48 hours) and daily hours (9 hours) respectively.

Apple's statement

• Apple conducted an audit on its own and said that the preliminary findings have indicated “violation of Supplier Code of Conductby failing to implement proper working hour management processes. This led to payment delays for some workers in October and November.”

• Apple also said that it is putting Wistron on probation and will not receive any new business from Apple till corrective measures are enforced.

Wistron's statements

• Wistron has acknowledged their mistake in a statement saying that, “Since the unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we have been investigating and have found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time.”

• Wistron has also removed its Vice President who is in charge of their business in India.

• Wistron has also apologized to the workers in their statement and further said that, "Our top priority is to ensure all workers are fully compensated immediately and we're working hard to achieve that. We've established an employee assistance program for workers at the facility. We're working diligently on corrective actions to ensure it doesn't happen again,"

What are your views on the entire incident? Let us know in the comment section below.

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