China Labor Watch has slammed Apple for ‘unkept promises’ about stamping out worker abuses and rights violations across its supply chain.
The investigators published a lengthy report that alleges Apple suppliers are guilty of at least 86 rights violations, made up of 36 legal violations and 50 ethical violations, falling into 15 categories. These are: dispatch labor abuse, hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, underage labor, contract violations, insufficient worker training, excessive working hours, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, difficulty in taking leave, labor health and safety concerns, ineffective grievance channels, abuse by management, and environmental pollution.
The accusations are a patchwork of disaster for the company, trying to clean up its image among activists as one of the chief enablers of worker misery.
In Apple’s compliance report earlier this year, CLW pointed out, the company boasted it had pressured the vast majority of its suppliers into adhering to the company’s orders for a 60 hour work work. But, CLW said, this is well short of China’s 49 hour legal limit – and in reality, the average weekly working hours in three factories were 66 hours, 67 hours, and 69 hours. Further, the investigation found that in Pegatron Shanghai, workers had to sign forms showing their overtime was less than the real levels.
Undercover activists from CLW exposed squalid living conditions, where it is alleged workers were forced to sleep in cramped dormitories. At supplier AVY, it was found garages had been converted into filthy shower rooms with no hot water, while the toilets were dirty and limted to one room for each domitory floor.
An investigator’s diary for AVY claims workers were rushed into signing contracts as they arrived – without having had the chance to read them. Training was found to be inadequate too, with slideshows rushed through for the purpose of signing attendance sheets and the correct answers simply copied into exam papers.
The work itself was mostly non-technical but monotonous, and the investigator had to stand on their feet for long lengths of time without breaks. “Even 10 minutes would help,” the investigator wrote, “but soon team leaders came to tell me that the 10 minute break was cancelled”.
Meanwhile, at another supplier, Riteng, it was found that a lot of female workers were not aware of their right to maternity leave – with some pregnant women working typically almost 70 hours per week. Of those that are aware of their rights, Riteng told them they could not have maternity leave unless they had a birth permission document from the government. Those out of wedlock were denied maternity leave too.
Executive director at CLW, Li Qiang, said in a statement that conditions at Pegatron are “even worse than those at Foxconn factories”.
“Apple has not lived up to its own standards. This will lead to Apple’s suppliers abusing labor in order to strengthen their position for receiving orders. In this way, Apple is worsening conditions for workers, not improving them.”