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Article

4 Jan 2021

Author:
Anuradha Nagaraj, Thomson Reuters Foundation

India: Workers with diminished rights under new labour laws storm Apple supplier

Violence at Apple supplier in India fuels fears of further worker unrest, 15 December 2020

The ransacking of an iPhone manufacturer in southern India could be the first of many “flashpoints” involving local workers in the supply chains of major brands, researchers said on Tuesday, pointing to a lack of rights and recourse under new labour laws.

Thousands of contract workers in India’s tech hub of Bengaluru gathered on Saturday outside a factory owned by Taiwanese firm Wistron Corp - a supplier for Apple Inc - to demand unpaid wages and better working hours.

As police arrived, the crowd turned violent and video from the scene showed people armed with rods and sticks smashing equipment and vandalising cars, causing up to $7.1 million in damage according to an estimate by the company.

The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) said the incident in the southern state of Karnataka was a result of workers being subjected to “extremely exploitative sweatshop-like working conditions in gross violation of labour laws”.

The workers earned far less than the promised 22,000 rupees ($299) monthly salary and were not paid wages for November, according to the AICCTU, which said government officials and the management at Wistron had not responded to their complaints…

Labour rights experts warned that worker unrest in Indian manufacturing hubs could increase as new laws, which were passed in September, deny labourers the right to strike or receive social benefits if working for smaller companies…

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