The Chinese Global Times hasn’t stopped gloating ever since an Apple iPhone manufacturing facility near Bengaluru erupted in violence, following a dispute over non-payment of regular wages and overtime dues. The English language mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party seized on the recent unfortunate incident of rioting by the aggrieved workers at the Wistron Corporation facility to warn other multinationals against moving to India.
However, such propaganda barely conceals the fact that the Wistron management was in the wrong to deny the workers their wages and other dues for long without a valid reason. Such worker exploitation may be the norm in China but no civilised country tolerates it. That may be why the Wistron bosses were quick to dismiss the vice-president in charge of the Bengaluru factory.
Apple too has put Wistron on notice that it will not contract it for further orders should it fail to take corrective measures. India has recently amended its stringent labour laws to facilitate a level playing field between the employers and employees but only after duly providing due safeguards for legitimate workers’ rights. What the Wistron management did was nothing short of criminal. Still, it did not condone the resort to violence and destruction of property by the workers.
More than a hundred workers were arrested, while a Communist leader accused of instigating them was on the run. Apple, having identified India as the next big market, has taken the lead in setting up plants for assembly of its phones and manufacturing of some of its components in this country. The unfortunate incident, hopefully, will serve as a lesson for all sides, including employees, contractors and contract-workers, to follow fair and just rules. Exploitation of human labour might be okay in Communist China, it will never be okay in a democratic India.