Bengaluru– US-based consumer electronics major Apple launched investigation into the reasons that triggered violence at its iPhone maker Wistron Corporation’s plant near Bengaluru on December 12.

The violence in which the factory’s employees were allegedly involved is estimated to have caused the Taiwanese contractor Rs 437 crore loss, an official said on Monday.

“We have teams on the ground which have launched investigation at Wistron’s facility at Narasapura near Bengaluru. As we are dedicated to ensuring everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect, we are also dispatching additional team members and auditors to the facility,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement here.

Apple’s supplier guidelines mandate third-party staffing agencies to pay workers and provide them other benefits as per rules and on time.

Apple’s visiting team will examine if there was disparity in wages agreed and paid to the employees.

Local police arrested about 150 employees of Wistron by Sunday for the alleged violent incident in the facility at Narasapura in Kolar district, around 55km east of this tech hub in southern Karnataka.

Wistron is one of the third-party makers of iconic iPhone for Apple and assembles select models in India. It also has an assembling plant at Peenya industrial estate in Bengaluru north, rolling out iPhone SE model since 2017.

“Our teams are also in touch with the local authorities and we are offering support to the investigation into the incident,” said the spokesperson.

Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing (India) Ltd chief executive T.D. Prashant in a complaint to the local police said expensive office equipment, mobile phones and assembly equipment were destroyed when a section of the employees went on a rampage for alleged delay in payments and deductions in their salary.

The executive also complained that infrastructure facilities, a dozen cars, golf cars, smart phones and electronic gadgets were damaged, stolen or lost in the violence spree on the weekend (early Saturday).

“About 5,000 contract labourers and 2,000 unidentified people vandalised the factory,” alleged Prashant in his complaint to the Narasapura police.

“The contract workers went on a rampage on December 12. Raising slogans, they ransacked office, moved into the assembly lines and vandalised iron lockers with rods and destroyed company property and looted valuables,” said the complaint.

The company has invested about Rs 2,000 crore in the Naraspura plant to roll out about 4 lakh iPhone 7 handsets per annum and second-generation iPhone SE devices.

The company has invested about Rs 2,000 crore in the Naraspura plant to roll out about 4 lakh iPhone 7 handsets per annum and second generation iPhone SE devices.

The company’s managing director Sudipto Gupta said in a statement that Wistron was deeply shocked by the events at its Narasapura facility.

“We follow the law and are supporting the authorities with their investigation. The safety and well-being of our team members are always our priority,” said Gupta.

In a regulatory filing on the Taipei Stock Exchange where Wistron is listed, the company said the accident was caused by unknown persons bursting in and causing damage to the plant.

“The company always abides by the law, and is cooperating with the authorities and police investigations,” said the filing.

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary M.D. Harigovind told IANS that the violence at Wistron was due to gross exploitation of workers and sweatshop conditions in the factory, where the world’s most expensive mobile phones are assembled.

“The state government has allowed the company to flout basic rights of the workers, including payment of wages and working hours. In the absence of regulations, anarchy prevailed. The company and the state government should be held accountable,” said Harigovind in a statement here.

Of about 10,000 workers, around 1,340 are permanent and 8,500 are on contract, hired by six firms like leading staffing firm TeamLease Services Ltd.

According to district labour officer Srikanth Patil, major of the employees, including women are locals, with diploma or ITI certificate in electronics.

“Though the workers were hired at a salary of Rs 16,000 per month for 8-hour shift, they were short-changed and paid only Rs 12,000 but made to work for 4 more hours without overtime payment,” claimed Harigovind.

Patil said the simmering discontent over delay in payment of wages, extra hours without compensation, disputes over attendance records and stifling working conditions outraged the workers, forcing them to resort to violence due to pent-up anger against the management.

Wistron is among 10 global suppliers of iPhones to Apple. Foxconn is another Taiwanese firm which makes iPhones at Sriperumbadur near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. (IANS)