Why workers in India attacked an iPhone factory

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Workers at an iPhone manufacturing plant in southern India smashed windows and set fire to panels in the factory on Saturday after saying they had not received a salary and had been forced to work overtime. the India time reported that a “majority” of the 2000 factory workers were involved in the episode, which could undermine Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign to boost the country’s manufacturing sector and tarnish Apple’s efforts to relocate some of its supply chain in the subcontinent.

Apple is would have look if Wistron Corporation, the Taiwanese tech contract maker that runs the plant, violated supplier rules, that require a manufacturer’s recruiting agencies to pay workers on time, offer overtime pay, and provide at least the local minimum wage and any other benefits required by law.

Mr. D. Harigovind, General Secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress, a trade union federation, said in a press release that “the brutal exploitation of workers and clandestine working conditions” in the factory caused unrest.

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Local police said Sunday, they had arrested 100 people and formed “special teams to investigate the incident”.

Wistron and Apple did not respond immediately to Fortune requests for comments. A Wistron representative Told According to AFP, “the incident was caused by people with identities unknown to the outside who entered and damaged its facilities with unclear intentions.” Wistron told AFP he would follow local labor regulations and intend to resume operations at the factory as soon as possible.

In recent years, the Modi government has touted India as a manufacturing alternative to China for Apple and other multinational tech companies whose supply chains have become entangled in the US-China trade war.

Apple sources 48% of its product components come from China, but it has recently increased its stability as subcontractors in India The US-China feud threatened to impose tariffs on Apple devices. Besides Wistron, two other Taiwanese electronics manufacturers—Pegatron and Foxconn – make iPhones in India.

Apple begin make iPhones in India in 2017 to comply with local sourcing rules and to gain a foothold in the market. Apple commands just 2% India’s 500 million-person smartphone market, the second-largest in the world, in part due to the Indian government’s strict rules for foreign retailers. In August 2019, India relaxed those restrictions – Apple had pressured it to do so – and Apple announced in February that it would open its first physical retail store in India in 2021.

The Wistron factory unrest has erupted as India grapples with a recession and workers oppose deregulation they say the government is pursuing at their expense. At the end of September, India passed a series of laws aimed at deregulating parts of the agricultural industry and reforming labor laws, which sparked ongoing protests across the country.

The three farm reform bills adopted in September aims to modernize the sector and stimulate investment decreasing government oversight of the sale of certain crops and relaxation of market regulations for farmers, allowing them to sell directly to commercial buyers.

But many farmers oppose reforms which they say will erase minimum price guarantees on some crops and disproportionately benefit big business. Hundreds of thousands of farmers and their supporters participated in ongoing protests against the legislation, blocking highways and trains to New Delhi and calling for strikes calling on the government to roll back the laws.

the labor reform laws which passed during the same period will allow more companies to fire workers without government permission and make it more difficult to organize workers and strike unions.

Business groups broadly support national labor law reforms, believing that they will encourage foreign investment and help businesses grow. But the unions oppose the reforms. In September, when the Indian parliament approved the agriculture and labor bills, more than 10 major Indian unions joined demonstrations by farmers against the government.

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