Indian trade union slams govt for failing to address worker woes after Wistron violence

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Men wearing protective face masks walk past broken windows of a facility run by Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer for Apple, in Narsapura near the southern city of Bengaluru, India, December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer

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BENGALURU/NEW DELHI, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A major Indian trade union on Thursday slammed Karnataka state for failing to take stern action against iPhone assembler Wistron and accused it of targeting the company's contract workers after a protest over salary payments turned violent.

The protest on Saturday over months of alleged underpayment of dues at a Wistron Corp (3231.TW) assembly plant in the southern state spiralled out of control after police were summoned.

The Taiwanese company, one of Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) top global suppliers, in a police complaint said more than 5,000 of its contract workers had destroyed property and equipment, causing an estimated $60 million in damages.

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It later told the Taiwan stock exchange that the damages, which forced it to shut the factory, were worth up to $7 million.

Hundreds of workers have been arrested or detained by police, and the Karnataka government has condemned the violence, vowing to take the "strictest action" against the wrong doers.

The state has said it welcomes foreign investment, calling Wistron a "flag bearer" for India's electronics manufacturing ambitions. It has vowed to help the company re-start operations and said it will look to address worker grievances. read more

"The state government is going extremely soft on the company and turning a blind eye to all the violations at the facility," said Clifton D'Rozario, national secretary of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), at a press briefing.

Accusing the government of only caring about foreign investment, he said that workers had not been paid properly for four months and that officials did not seem to be questioning this.

"They are generating employment that is not paying people - What purpose does such employment serve?" said D'Rozario.

Wistron and the Karnataka government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Apple, which has said it is probing whether Wistron flouted its supplier guidelines, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal And Chandini M; Additional reporting by Harish Bhaskar in Bengaluru; Editing by Euan Rocha, Kirsten Donovan

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