BANGALORE, India — Nearly $60 million worth of iPhones were looted during a workers riot at an Indian factory manufacturing the smartphones over a long-simmering pay dispute.
The unrest was triggered after employees complained that they had been stiffed out of several months’ pay by a subcontractor that operated the factory in the southern state of Karnataka. More than 15,000 employees work at the facility, the vast majority are employed by subcontractors, the Times of India reported.
Nearly 100 arrests have so far been made, authorities said.
The workers rioted Saturday at Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing’s facility on the outskirts of Bangalore, India’s IT hub. Videos of the violence showed glass panels smashed with rods and cars flipped on their side.
Security cameras, fans and lights were torn down, while a car was set on fire, footage shared on social media showed.
A local trade union leader alleged that there was “brutal exploitation” of factory workers in sweatshop conditions at the iPhone manufacturing plant, with many not having been paid for four months and being forced to work extra shifts.
“The state government has allowed the company to flout the basic rights,” Satyanand, who uses one name, told The Hindu newspaper.
Wistron, which is headquartered in Taiwan said, “the incident was caused by people of unknown identities from outside who intruded into and damaged its facility with unclear intentions”.
The company also “pledged to follow local labor laws and other related regulations” to resume operations as soon as possible.