Apple’s Adventures In India Is NOT Going Well

With everything that has been going on between China and the US not to mention a number of other countries, Apple has been trying to diversify where their stuff is made. Currently, a lot of it is made in China. But as of late, they have been branching out. Word on the street is that the new and overpriced AirPods Max are made in Vietnam for example. Though still by Chinese firms. And in the case of older iPhones, Apple made the decision to shift manufacturing to India via a firm called Wistron. Everything was great on that front, until workers rioted last weekend because of unpaid wages:

The authorities have vowed to crack down on workers who went on a violent rampage at a Taiwanese-run iPhone factory in southern India over allegations of unpaid wages and exploitation, with 100 people arrested so far.

Workers at Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing’s facility on the outskirts of Bangalore rioted on Saturday, with footage of the violence showing glass panels smashed and cars flipped on their sides. CCTV cameras, fans and lights were torn down, while a car was set on fire.

Local media reported workers saying they had not been paid for up to four months and were being forced to do extra shifts.

And when the government investigated this, they found that the workers claims were valid:

Serious violations of labour laws were taking place at the iPhone manufacturing facility in India where a workers’ protest on Saturday turned violent and caused US$7 million worth of damage, a report by the Karnataka state government has found.

Exploitative practices such as underpayment of wages, irregular hours and poor working conditions were common at the Wistron Corporation assembling and manufacturing unit in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, as detailed by its Department of Factories, Boilers, Industrial Safety and Health.

This Week in Asia has seen a copy of the report, an internal document detailing preliminary investigations into the incident from the department, which is tasked with enforcing labour-related legislation to ensure workers’ safety.

And another report suggests that Apple is on the hook for this:

The Karnataka state government could make Apple a party to the inquiry into the violence at the Wistron factory that makes iPhones, people familiar with the matter said. Apple, which is also investigating the incident at the contract manufacturer’s plant, said its own review has found violations in the supplier code of conduct. The company is also checking if Wistron had sought its prior approval for extending working hours. 

“Apple could be asked to share details of its investigation with the labour authorities/court,” said one of the persons cited above, adding that a series of connected Supreme Court and high court rulings upheld that the primary employer’s responsibility. 

Apple is investigating this allegedly and has called out Wistron in regards to this incident:

Apple said Saturday it had placed Wistron on probation and the contract maker would not get any new business until it took corrective action. “Apple employees, along with independent auditors, will monitor their progress,” it added. 

Apple loves to talk about the fact that they enforce a code of conduct for their suppliers to make sure that stuff like this doesn’t happen. But it really seems to me that in reality, it talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. Now I don’t want to bash India, but it is a challenging place to do business. You wold think that Apple would want to avoid India because of the potential headaches that this country is known for from a labor perspective. But the cynic in me says that Apple is more interested in keeping its profit margins up rather than making sure that stuff like this doesn’t happen. Which is why they keep going to countries with low wages like India. Thus while this story has a ways to go, you can be sure that Apple has a lot of questions that they will have to answer. And that’s not going to be pleasant for them. And I bet that Apple is reconsidering their adventure in India as you read this.

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