Apple screen supplier accused of violating worker rights

Apple screen supplier accused of violating worker rights

Summary: Biel Crystal Manufactory abuses worker rights, a Hong Kong rights group claims.

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Credit: SACOM

Apple supplier Biel Crystal Manufactory has been accused of violating workers' rights within its Chinese factories.

The manufacturer, which supplies iPhone screens to tech giant Apple, allegedly abuses its workers in a number of ways. According to a report by the Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), staff are forced to work in 11-hour shifts with only a single day off each month.

SACOM's research was conducted through 60 off-site interviews and an undercover investigation. Biel Crystal Manufactory, one of the largest producers of glass for mobile devices in the world, also counts Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Lenovo as clients, SACOM claims.

Iao Qiu (name changed to keep the worker anonymous) from the Quality check department told the group:

"Biel has a lot of orders from Apple and Samsung. There's no such thing as peak or non-peak seasons in the factory. Almost every month is a peak season, and we just work and work. We have to work three hours overtime every day from Mondays to Fridays, and we work another two full day (meaning 11 hours per day) on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no break at all until we shift duty at the end of each month."

In addition, the Hong Kong-based rights group also claims that safety standards are not up to par, with employees of Biel Crystal Manufactory often becoming injured in the workplace and then denied compensation. Employees are also fined or fired for failing to reach production targets, falling asleep or breaking glass.

Workers are made to sign a blank contract, the rights group says, which must be handed in when they resign -- which means no tie between employee and employer exists, potentially preventing future lawsuits relating to the company.

At the firm's Guangdong factory in China -- one of two in mainland China -- at least five workers have committed suicide in the last three years, the report claims.

In a statement to Reuters, Apple said in response to the report:

"We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Every year Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2012 we conducted 393 audits at supplier facilities around the world."

Biel Crystal Manufactory employs over 60,000 workers, 40,000 of which are stationed at Guangdong.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Smartphones, Hong Kong

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13 comments
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  • Meanwhile Apple laughs all the way to the bank

    Really, this is news? How many times do we have to spell out how this works in these factories? Its slave labor at its best, much of our taste for electronics is provided by this slave labor. Nobody really cares about these people unless they screw up making our precious iPhone, Mac or PC, our TV or anything else tech. Do you really think Apple cares? Stop drinking that Koolaid. If any of these companies actually put labor rights up there as a humanitarian priority. They would pull out of these companies. No they are content with providing a little press about investigating and resolving these problems.
    JohnnyES-25227553276394558534412264934521
    • Not Apple, "Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Lenovo" laugh

      Apple contract LG Display, Sharp Display and Innolux for iPhone displays. SACOM added Apple to Biel Crystal Manufactory only as PR/publicity trick.
      DDERSSS
      • Yes, DDERSSS, Apple too.

        Just because you didn't steal the camera, the fact that you happily bought the camera you know was stolen makes you just as bad as the theif himself.

        Same goes for Apple. They are to blame if they turn a blind eye to how Biel Crystal operates.

        But I know, it's Apple, and they'll be no negative press about them if you can help it. ;)
        William.Farrel
        • And...

          "But I know, it's Apple"

          William.Farrel, do you also "know" it's Motorola, Google, Samsung and many other companies are also using Biel Crystal Manufactory Ltd. as a supplier???

          And you are wrong when you say that "they'll be no negative press" for Apple, since most of the articles today make it sound (by omission of the facts) as if Apple is the only company using this supplier.

          If anyone is having "no negative press", it is Motorola, Google, Samsung and all of the other companies that are not being mentioned as other contractors of Biel Crystal Manufactory Ltd.

          The one positive thing that Apple is doing is it does inspect suppliers that have been accused of poor treatment of employees, and Apple applies pressure on those companies to change.

          But as far as we know, Motorola, Google, Samsung and all of the other companies DO NOT do this. They seem content to let their suppliers mistreat employees as much as they want.
          Harvey Lubin
          • Please don't try to twist my post. It's a waste of your time.

            And mine.

            We all know that the article was headlined "Apple screen supplier accused of violating worker rights".

            We also know that DDERSSS then tried to apologize for Apple, and misdirect by saying that Apple wasn't laughing, but (of course) "Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Lenovo" are.

            he could have tried the old "but the others are", but no - he implied that out of all of them Apple is the ONLY concerned one, and that the focus should be placed on the others mentioned, and none towards Apple,

            Hence the line (and the key word is "you" in it) "But I know, it's Apple, and they'll be no negative press about them if YOU can help it. ;)

            In other words, yes, there IS negative press about Apple, but if DDERSSS had his way, there would never, ever be ANY negative press about Apple, as he doesn't want anyone knowing that Apple HAS negative press, and that they're just as bad as any other company out there.

            Some do not like their deities diminished in any way.
            William.Farrel
  • Apple couldn't...they wouldn't!

    It's amazing how a product that is produced through slave-labor ends up as a status-symbol for liberal, green, socially-conscious Americans sitting in Starbucks.

    Of course, they're drinking coffee picked by poverty-stricken people who don't have plumbing, and being served by a barista who makes slightly over minimum wage... so, why should it matter?
    ribzilla
    • Seriously?

      You think only liberals use Apple products?
      FrankInKy
      • Of course...

        Demographically, Apple products are far more likely to be used by individuals who identify themselves as "liberals".

        Haven't you read the Debaulk-Francis demo report on Apple? It's very interesting and informative. In May of 2012, 1,000 individuals who own one or more Apple products were surveyed as to their political-leanings; 92.6% described themselves as "socially liberal".

        It's not 100%, but it is awfully close.
        ribzilla
    • Hypocritical much?

      ribzilla, don't you realize that not only Apple, but also Motorola, Google, Samsung and many other companies are also using Biel Crystal Manufactory Ltd. as a supplier... or do you know it but you want to conveniently ignore that fact... in which case, you are being a hypocrite. ;-))
      Harvey Lubin
      • Idiot much?

        But, isn't Apple "better" than those companies? Isn't that what folks like you have been saying, all along? Isn't Apple the company that demands a higher standard of itself?

        You can't scream that Apple is a superior brand, then turn around an excuse their shortcoming with the eight grade defense of: "but they did it, too"!

        Sorry... you can't have your Apple and eat it, too.
        ribzilla
        • What are you saying?

          Which are you implying?
          Apple knew about the horrible conditions and did nothing.
          Apple didn't know about the conditions, but after finding out will do nothing.
          Apple didn't know about the conditions, but after finding out will help to make changes.

          The facts show that they do not like ill treated workers and WILL make the needed changes unlike many of their competitors. Do some research instead of remaining ignorant.
          observer1959
          • RU Serious?

            Apple knows full well that Foxnet employees have an enormous suicide rate.. and the only thing that was done about it was that Foxnet had "suicide nets" installed around the employee "hotel'.

            Grow up.
            tombiderman
  • . . . "IF" . . .

    (as per photo)
    "IF" topless was the requirement, hire all girls.
    fm-usa