Temps take brunt: Labour report alleges violations by China iPhone supplier

Ceria Alfonso
Setiembre 12, 2019

"Our recent findings on working conditions at Zhengzhou Foxconn highlights several issues which are in violation of Apple's own code of conduct", CLW said. "Multinational corporations helped drive economic development in China but they have also exploited loopholes in Chinese labor laws", CLW reported.

Investigators from China Labor Watch were employed at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, a 1.4 million square metre campus dubbed "iPhone City" that produces half of the iPhones sold around the world. That number fell slightly to 50 percent in August of this year, but is still well above what Chinese labor law stipulates as the maximum allowable, which is 10 percent.

"We did find during our investigation that the percentage of dispatch workers exceeded our standards and we are working closely with Foxconn to resolve this issue", according to the South China Morning Post.

"Apple is now transferring costs from the trade war through their suppliers to workers and profiting from the exploitation of Chinese workers", the China Labour Watch report said.

Spokespeople for both Apple and Foxconn confirmed in statements to Bloomberg, the Washington Post, and CNBC that the proportion of dispatch workers had exceeded the limit allowed by Chinese law. Because many of these students returned to school at the end of August, the figure dropped to 30 percent, but is still a violation, according to CLW.

Foxconn said it had found that the number of temporary workers was "not consistent with company guidelines".

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"We will not hesitate to take any additional steps that might be required to meet the high standards we set for our operations", Foxconn said.

Other allegations raised by CLW include improper pay, refusal to accept resignations and forced and unpaid overtime work, among others. Chinese law dictates this percentage cannot exceed 10%. It said the interns worked overtime voluntarily and were properly compensated.

The temporary workers-also called dispatch workers-do not get full-time benefits like paid time off or health insurance.

The CLW report also says "verbal abuse is fairly common at the production site", claims the report, which also says that while workplace injuries are rare, managers will "often trick workers into hiding the truth" when accidents do happen. If requests are denied and staff still choose not to work overtime, they are admonished by managers and miss out on future overtime opportunities. Finally, the Foxconn factory supposedly does not provide necessary safety equipment or training.

Apple responded to the report in a Monday statement, saying "most of the allegations" in the CLW report "are false".

"At no time did we find any evidence of forced labour and we can confirm that this facility now has no interns working overtime", it said in a statement given to AFP.

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