Apple tackles labor violations in Chinese factories

Apple tackles labor violations in Chinese factories

Summary: Following a 2013 audit, Apple has begun working with component supplier Quanta to improve working conditions in Chinese factories.

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TOPICS: Apple, China
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Credit: Apple

Apple is working with suppliers to fix yet another round of labor violations discovered within Chinese factories.

A report published on Friday by the Fair Labor Association documents a 2013 audit which uncovered labor violations at two Quanta factories in China, a supplier of Apple components. The watchdog provides a snapshot of the two factories, Tech-Com Computer Co. in Shanghai and Changshu-based Tech-Full Computer Co. in August 2013, where labor monitoring organization Openview sent assessors to inspect the factories for four and five day sessions.

The assessors discovered a number of labor violations, including indoor air pollution, poor hiring procedures, unlawful overtime for younger workers and student interns, a lack of rest days and illegal working hours, as well as poor storage procedures for dangerous chemicals. In addition, 80 percent of workers interviewed in Shanghai were charged a hiring fee from recruitment agents, and many workers were denied due wages for sick leave.

Overall compliance scores for both factories are below:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.40.18
Shanghai
Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.40.48
Changshu

According to Reuters, the tech giant has been working with Quanta over the past year to improve the situation. In response to the report, Apple issued a statement, saying:

"Excessive overtime is not in anyone’s best interest, and we will continue to work closely with Quanta and our other suppliers to prevent it. This year, through the end of July, Quanta has averaged 86 percent compliance with our 60-hour workweek."

Additionally, the iPad and iPhone maker said it has stepped in to address major faults discovered through its own audit team, follow-up inspections have taken place, and over the past year "we have worked closely with Quanta to drive meaningful improvements in areas identified by both the FLA and Apple."

In 2010, Apple's major supplier Foxconn came under scrutiny following reports which said workers were committing suicide and the factor's labor conditions were unacceptable. In total, 11 employees at Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory jumped off buildings. Apple said at the time the firm was "saddened and upset," and ongoing inspections were taking place to stop a repeat performance. Foxconn also chose to raise the basic wages of factory workers.

Following a storm of criticism, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association and became more transparent concerning its supply chain and how the company works with suppliers to improve working conditions.

Within the US, the iPad and iPhone maker has found itself the recent subject of a class-action lawsuit submitted in July on behalf of 20,000 employees who allegedly were not given enough rest breaks and were not granted final paychecks. The lawsuit claims that Apple breached Californian labor laws by not providing adequate rest and final payment, and encompasses junior engineers, call center representatives and Apple Store staff.

Topics: Apple, China

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8 comments
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  • Shocking revelations....

    Apple should be utterly ashamed. At times such as these I am utterly ashamed to be using Apple products. That being said and by no means excusing Apple they are not alone with Samsung being recently pulled up for similar practices. Furthermore I am certain such practices are widespread across all platforms in technology.
    5735guy
    • Really ???

      Apple should be ashamed, but this is hardly news, and certainly not shocking. I personally do not own any Apple products and anyone that does should be ashamed of themselves as this is but one instance in a long history of poor labor practices on behalf of Apple.

      As for Samsung, while I only own one Samsung device, they have only recently come under scrutiny and responded by suspending business with its suppliers using child labor (http://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-chops-order-to-china-supplier-facing-child-labor-charges/). While it remains to be seen how committed they are to eliminating this practice, they appear to be making an effort.

      While it may make you feel better about your Apple devices, the statement that this practice is widespread across all platforms in technology is just not substantiated.
      jebailey1120
      • Google it.

        "While it may make you feel better about your Apple devices, the statement that this practice is widespread across all platforms in technology is just not substantiated."

        Sure it is substantiated. Google "child labor practices china" and go through the pages.

        What happened is that China allowed, even sanctioned, these policies at one time (and probably still fail to enforce their new policies), and poverty makes it even worse.

        Their labor is cheap because their people are poor and there is virtually no minimum wage.

        Which, in turn, makes for generally cheap devices. In fact, I'd wager the cheapest devices are currently far more likely to be using such labor practices today than Apple devices.

        You don't hear about the other platforms because of the way news works - the bigger the player, the bigger the story. Headlines about Samsung and Apple are far more sensationalist and makes the news organization a lot more money. Headlines about some no-name hardware manufacturer just doesn't have the impact they're looking for.

        But if you get past Apple and Samsung and look at Chinese labor practices in general - you'll find this is a China problem, not a Samsung or Apple problem. It's pretty widespread, and even extends to non-tech industries such as Nike and Wal-Mart.
        CobraA1
  • Apple does not sell 'cheap' products.

    I know the practice is fairly widespread but for most companies, Samsung included, their margins are not stellar. Samsung have to sell 5 phones(possibly more) for every 1 of Apples phones sold to make the same sort of money. So Apple can afford to not beat their suppliers down and to ensure workers are paid fairly. But they don't. They give lip service to this and that's all. Samsung's response was far greater especially when you consider what they have to lose as their margins are slimmer. It's all about the money! And the making of it! Apple doesn't make an extra few billion this quarter and Wall St goes into a spin. How stupid is that! Apple are making quite a bit of money already but somehow, it's never enough. How is that sustainable? It isn't! It reminds me of a quote from the movie Wall St, 'how much will be enough'. I think the American corporations have already answered that question, and they will bring the world down with them again. Oh joy!
    ursulus
  • Make the phones in the USA and emininate this problem!

    Give the people in the USA some needed jobs.
    WCarp
    • Tried to correct spelling of eliminate but ZDNet won't let me!

      NT
      WCarp
      • Errr

        With the labor here alone, a $500 iPhone will probably jump to $650. Surprised Apple is still in China. I hear others are moving their operations to Vietnam or somewhere around there where labor is even cheaper.
        Gisabun
  • Eventually, Africa.

    And it has a history of continuous genocide and slavery. Talk about labor practices in China seems rather mild.
    trm1945