Karnataka govt dept finds violation of labour laws at Wistron plant
The Karnataka government’s Department of Factories, Boilers, Industrial Safety & Health has, in its preliminary report, allegedly found violations of labour laws at the Wistron Corp factory 60 km from Bengaluru. The report reportedly says that 10,500 workers are employed in the factory but the HR department has not been adequately set up with personnel of sound knowledge of labour laws. It has also said the repercussions of changing the working hours from 8 to 12 hours has not been assessed.
According to sources, the other findings of the panel are: The confusion in the minds of the workers about their wages inclusive of overtime on account of the change in work pattern from an 8-hour shift to 12 hours has not been addressed by the HR personnel in line with the legal provisions of law; overtime hours and wages thereof in respect of 12-hour shift have not been clearly explained to the workers; a fault in the attendance system to correctly capture the attendance of the workers has not been addressed though it has continued for the past two months.
Also, the salaries of the workers have to be disbursed on or before the 10th day from the last day of the wage period. i.e. 1st of every month in the instant case (Wage period being 23rd of the previous month to the 22nd of the next month); this was wrongly stated by the HR personnel as payable on or before 10th of every month, said the sources. The practices in place with regard to payment of wages and overtime work are not in line with the provisions of law, the panel reportedly said. There is a wide gap between the practices in the factory to the statutory stipulations under the law pertaining to the period of work, it added.
The Centre has stepped in, asking the Karnataka government to complete the inquiry into the incident involving the workers of Wistron, which manufactures iPhone and other products for Apple Inc, as quickly as possible.
Wistron, which had in its FIR filed with the local police earlier estimated the losses from this incident at ₹437 crore, later revised it to ₹50 crore.
The All India Trade Union Congress, in a letter to the State government, alleged that more than 85 per cent of the workforce at the plant were contract workers.
Wistron Corp is also learnt to have filed an FIR against 7,000 people including 5,000 of its contract workers and 2,000 that did not work at the plant.
Meanwhile, the President of MAIT, which represents the electronic industry, has said the association strongly condemns the vandalism. “We urge the local authorities for an immediate and decisive action which sends a message to the global community on India’s tough stand on this aberration. India has very well laid out grievance redress platforms and laws to protect the interest of workers. And in this context this incident is unfortunate and the culprits need to be brought to book," Nitin Kunkolienker, President, MAIT, said in a statement.
The Karnataka government said it is working closely with the Wistron management to ensure the plant restarts soon.
The report also points out that on verification with the supervisors of the contract agencies and the workers present in the factory at the time of visit, the following are revealed;
1. There has been a difference in the payment paid to the contract workers, with the number of days present shown in the salary statement, which had been brought to the knowledge of the HR and the Contractors.
2. The HR team had assured that the same would be rectified and the difference payment would be paid along with the next month's salary.
3. However, this difference was not paid along with the salary for the month of November 2020 4. The salary to the contract workers are paid on either 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th of the subsequent month.
5. The salary of the housekeeping contract workers has not been paid till date. They are required to work for 12 hours a day for six days a week, and are being paid the same salary which they were being paid when they were working for 8 hours a day.
6. The change in working hours of the factory from 8 hours shift to 12 hours shift on continuous basis has not been brought to the knowledge of the department.
7. Necessary Exemptions under the Factories Act 1948 has not been taken to carry out overtime work from the workers and hence the working hours of the factory from 6 am to 6 pm and from 6 pm to 6 am is in violation of the provisions of Section 51 and 54 of the Factories Act, 1948.
8. Similarly there is no provision under the law to engage women workers on overtime work. However women workers have been allowed to carry out overtime work in the factory.
9. Permission is not taken to employ 13,500 workers in the factory from the department.