An iPhone manufacturing plant run by a Taiwanese company, Wistron Corp, at Karnataka's Kolar district was attacked by employees aggrieved over alleged non-payment of salaries and overworking for months. On December 12, 2020, Wistron Corp's Narasapura facility near Bengaluru, was vandalised by its employees. The employees were paid less salary, were not paid for months and were forced to work for as long as 12 hours a day. As the management failed to resolve the issue, scuffle happened including, stone pelting at the building, breaking of electrical equipment, and setting ablaze two company vehicles. Later police intervened and resorted to lathi-charge; filing FIRs against 7,000 unknown people including 5,000 contract workers.
In context to this, a video showing a clip of NDTV journalist, Ravish Kumar's news on Wistron Corp vandalisation in comparison with another clip showing the factoid about the event has gone viral. Nation With Namo, A Facebook page shared the video on its Facebook page with the caption, "What Ravish Kumar won't tell you is that a Communist leader brought outsiders into the Wistron premises to attack the factory!" The video was shared over 400 times.
Ravish Kumar can be heard in the video saying, "Wistron manufacturing plant in Narasapura Kolar that gives employment to more than 10,000 labourers was vandalised as the employees raged against underpayment and delay in salaries of the workers. The scuffle led to calling the police who had to resort to lathi-charge." He also said that the company claimed a loss of around Rs 450 crores and over 150 people were arrested. He narrated the row happened as an impact of the economic crisis and lack of management to listen to the grievances of employees. He also opined, if this news would come in public, these employees will be remarked as Maoist or member of 'Tukde Tukde Gang'.
The juxtaposed video clip says that the links of the Student Federation of India (SFI) unit were found in association with the vandalisation of iPhone manufacturing unit in Kolar. The video also said, SFI President, Srikanth was arrested for creating ruckus in Wistron building by calling outside people and vandalising the building.
The video was shared to portray the ruckus created did not involve employees of Wistron Corp but SFI, a left-wing student organisation affiliated to the Communist Party of India.
A Twitter user Bala, also tweeted the video with the caption, "That iPhone factory got attacked by non-employees & looted 430 crores worth iPhones. Now Ravish is defending them." The video has been viewed over 49,000 times and has over 1,700 retweets at the time of reporting.
Opindia, which calls itself a news website, also shared news blaming the Communist party for the ruckus in Kolar. The article was published on December 17, 2020, the with the headline, "Communist leader's arrest shows sinister conspiracy behind Wistron plant vandalism."
The vandalisation at Wistron Corp was politically motivated and SFI leader, Srikanth was associated with it.
The Logical Indian did a search with the keyword, 'Wistron Corps' and found a report by the LiveMint that was published on December 15, 2020, which said that Wistron Corp incurred the losses of over ₹437.7 crores as a result of workers' unrest. However, later on, on the same day Business Today, reported that Wistron Corp in its statement to Taiwan Stock Exchange said, "Major production facilities, as well as the warehouses, had not suffered damages as serious as the local media was reporting it to be." Wistron Corp claimed, the losses are initially estimated at $100-200 million; approximately Rs 26-52 crore."
A News Minute report on December 17 said, "Karnataka Labour Department's inspection report of Wistron's manufactory in Kolar had several violations of labour laws." The Labour Department report found that contract employees at Wistron's iPhone manufacturing unit in Karnataka's Kolar were not given offer letters, employment contracts and were denied salary slips on request. The Karnataka Labour Department had submitted a report after visiting Wistron Corp on December 12, the same day when ruckus happened and found several violations of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970. The contactors Quess Corp Ltd, Adecco India Ltd and Creative Engineers had hired more employees without prior approval of the labour department. The report also stated: employees complained that for over six months their salary for three to four days was deducted every month despite working for those days and also no action was taken from HR Front despite several complaints. Department of Factories, Boilers and Industrial Safety also said: overtime wages for the housekeeping staff were not paid.
Another report by Indiatoday published on December 18 said, "An FIR has been registered against 7,000 unknown people including 5,000 contract workers, in connection with violence and vandalism at the facility." The report also stated that police confirmed the arrest of 158 people in association with the vandalisation. Many parents claimed their children were not even present in the office on the day of the violence yet the police arrested them.
The Logical Indian spoke to Vasudeva Reddy, State Secretary of SFI, who said, "People who were working in the Wistron Corp were promised a salary of Rs 21,000 but for past 4 to 5 months they were being paid less." He also said that the employees were deprived of the rights under labour laws and had to work for more than 12 hours without being provided with any overtime. He also said, "Even the females were forced to do the night duties, all this made these people frustrated; triggering violence." When asked about the role of SFI in the ruckus, he denied any involvement of the party.
We also contacted the police team associated with the investigation of the violence at Wistron Corp, who said, "the investigation is still on." On being asked about the involvement of SFI President, Srikanth in the violence, the Police Officer denied his involvement. He said, " Srikanth was called for an inquiry, based on suspicion but he was released as no evidence was found against him. He didn't participate in the event."
Hence, we could evidently confirm that the violence at Wistron Corp took place as the labour laws were not followed and employees were being underpaid and the violence was not politically motivated. We also confirmed that Srikanth had no links with the violence.
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