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Apple iPhone manufacturer seeks return to normalcy after night shift destroys millions in equipment

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Back in December, Apple suspended contract manufacturer Wistron after a skirmish broke out over pay during the night shift at a plant in Narasapura, India. The assembly line crew complained that the company was not paying them what was promised. In response, the employees destroyed millions of dollars of equipment used by Wistron to manufacture devices like the iPhone.

Shake up at Wistron follows last December’s employee riot over pay

Reuters reports today that following an investigation, Wistron has restructured its management lineup in India. A pair of sources, including a government official, told Reuters that Wistron will reduce the roles played by its India head and its head of operations in the country. An industry source said, “This is Wistron signalling to investors, to clients, to India that it has moved beyond the shadow of the December incident, and is ready for new business.”

Wistron is believed to be looking for a new person to be the head of its business in India and has yet to make a selection. The former head of operations in the country has been given less important tasks to do. Apple and Wistron first began to restart iPhone production in India back in March with 6,000 employees, half of the usual 12,000. The company now has 7,000 workers manning the assembly line producing and shipping the iPhone.

Wistron’s Indian facilities are important to Apple since the latter is trying to move some of its production out of China. Even with a new administration in the White House, there is still a feeling of uneasiness when it comes to the relationship between the U.S. and China. As a result, Apple is reportedly hoping to move assembly of as much as 10% of its 5G iPhone 12 series to India.

Apple started building older iPhone models in India to take advantage of the country’s status as the second largest smartphone market in the world after China (the U.S. is third). The move also keeps prices lower in a country where the sticker price is all important due to India’s low per capita income figure. Manufacturing the iPhone inside the country also eliminates a stiff tax on imported handsets and dovetails with Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” initiative.

Besides Wistron, the two other contract manufacturers that assemble the iPhone, Foxconn and Pegatron, also man factories in India. All three companies plan on spending as much as $900 million over the next five years as India hopes to attract more smartphone manufacturers to the country.

Wistron was considered by Apple to have violated the tech giant’s supplier code of conduct. The company admitted that it failed to pay some employees the correct amount of money and some also were not paid on time.

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