After the Union Labour Department of India demanded an explanation from the Karnataka government regarding the vandalism at Wistron Infocomm’s iPhone factory in Kolar, the state government has submitted its report. The report states that there was a “technical malfunction” in the system of recording employees’ attendance and that the work hours were increased by four hours per day.
The letter, which TNM has accessed states that the preliminary investigation suggests that the unrest was mainly due to the increase in work hours from 8 hours per day to 12 hours. It also noted that Wistron had not addressed the issue of attendance recording malfunction in the new systems installed after March 2020.
“Technical fault in software of the attendance system not capturing the attendance of workers correctly was not addressed immediately. It is noted that there was disparity in the attendance captured by the access system in the factory and actual attendance of the worker which led to payment of leases wages owing to the reduction in the number of days of presence captured by the system,” Additional Chief Secretary Rajkumar Khatri wrote in his letter to the Union Labour Ministry.
Several employees that TNM spoke to had pointed out that they were marked as on leave despite turning up for work. Many also said that though they worked overtime and the overtime wages were not credited with the salary. The salaries too arrived late, between 10th to 12th in a month.
The Additional Chief Secretary’s letter also states that Wistron had not maintained a robust redressal system to address and rectify complaints raised. “A robust redressed system to address complaints arising out of attendance and overtime wages was not in place,” it states.
Sources with the Labour Department told TNM that Wistron initially had a biometric system of recording attendance. However, after the coronavirus pandemic, the company changed the system to one of access cards to ensure physical distancing.
“Multiple inspections after December 12 found that the access cards were not functioning properly. When employees asked about the reduction in pay, some of them were told there was a technical glitch and that it would be rectified. This did not happen,” a senior Labour Department official said.
The source further stated that Wistron had disbursed employee payments to the contracting companies. Contract workers were sourced from 7 contract agencies namely Innov source private limited, Creative Engineers, Needs Manpower support services, Randstand, Quess Corp Limited, Adecco Group and United (housekeeping), without including the outstanding amount for the previous months, which allegedly also irked employees.
In the early hours of December 12, many employees of Wistron vandalised the factory. The violence erupted after talks with the company’s HR Department failed.