People leave the Wistron site, a Taiwanese-run iPhone factory in Narsapura, about 60km from Bangalore, on December 13, 2020. Photo: AFP

Apple’s contract manufacturer Wistron Corp is likely to restart its plant near Bangalore in Karnataka state next week, which was shut following labor unrest in December, according to media reports.

On December 12, factory equipment and vehicles parked on the premises were damaged after a protest launched by contract workers turned violent. Nearly 7,000 workers were present during the incident and they were demanding clearance of unpaid wages and better working hours.

Following the unrest, Apple had launched an investigation and found that Wistron had violated the “Supplier Code of Conduct.” However, the Cupertino-based tech giant has now said that Wistron has taken corrective actions, but will remain on probation for some time. It said that Wistron has restructured its recruiting team and enhanced training and support for workers.

Wistron also claimed it has cleared the dues to its workers, implemented new hiring and payroll norms, and put in place a new system for workers to anonymously air their grievances.

Last week, the government of Karnataka state, where the plant is located, had held talks with top executives of Wistron and six staffing firms in a bid to resolve the issues and restart operations at the earliest.

The Taiwanese company operates a 44-acre plant that manufactures devices for multiple brands including Apple. It has two manufacturing plants near Bangalore and produces the iPhone SE and the iPhone 7. There are plans to start making new models and ramp up output. Wistron has committed to investing roughly 13 billion rupees ($176.74 million) in smartphone manufacturing over the next five years.

Apple has been trying to reduce its dependence on China amid the trade war between Beijing and Washington, and sees India as an alternative. Its contract manufacturers – Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron – had recently registered for the Indian government’s production-linked incentive scheme, which aims to attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components.

While Wistron and Foxconn have manufacturing facilities in India, Pegatron is soon set to begin operations in the country. It has reportedly leased half a million square feet space in an industrial park near Chennai and is expected to invest around $150 million.