The group known as Student & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has just released a report today dealing with Apple and China, and it wasn’t positive. The report, which was based on 130 interviews with employees at three separate Apple suppliers, claim that they all fail to meet even the basic humane labor standards. The 3 factories where the interviewees were from include the Foxlink, Pegatron, and Wintek factories. Here, each was described as having “unpaid work, excessive overtime hours, unachievable quotas, a rise in student interns, and other inhumane work conditions.” That is only the beginning, 7 main points start off the report, and those can be found below. If you wish to read it in its entirety, visit the source link at the bottom.
1. At all the factories investigated, the majority of workers- nearly 80% – are precariousworkers who are more vulnerable to labor rights violations.
2. There is a rise in using student interns. Apple suppliers collaborate with vocational training institutions which require students to join a supplementary workforce for the factories, depriving students’ right to a quality education.
3. Excessive long working hours are observed in the suppliers’ factories, especially during peak production seasons. Overtime work might take up to 4 hours a day, yielding work days as much as 14 hours and workers could only have 1-2 days off for the entire 3-month period. This means during this period work weeks of 70-100 were common, far in excess of that required by Chinese law (about 49 hours) or the standard set by Apple (typically 60 hours per week).
4. From our investigations, there are many instances of unpaid work, imposed through mechanisms such as cutting meal times, requiring workers to arrive to the factory before their official work hour for work meetings, making workers wait in long lines to swipe the time cards, and requiring workers to wear burdensome dust-free uniforms that are time consuming to put on and take off. The most severe complaint of the workers was in regard to unpaid overtime, as they are forced to stay in the factory’s unit until they have met the high production quotas assigned.
5. The long working hours, unachievable production quotas, and alleged unpaid overtime work has driven workers from Apple suppliers and accelerated the turnover rate, which in turn, has compelled Apple suppliers to depend heavily on labor agencies to recruit an increasing number of dispatch workers (in one case, a labor agency recruited up to 1000 workers a day). In addition, dispatch labor is deprived of the benefits that regular, full-time workers are entitled to. Overall, labor conditions are deteriorating, both for regular workers and dispatch workers.
6. Apple suppliers employ chemicals in the production process that are potentially harmful to workers. The research found that workers are not informed of the potential harms, and there is inadequate protective equipment. Excessive noise, dust, and potent chemicals put workers’ lives at risk. Our investigations show that the supplier Pegatron factory in Shanghai, one year after the explosion in December 2011, the case polishing unit has not improved the ventilation and the working environment remains very dusty.
7. There is an intensification of military- style management in Apple suppliers. They employ measures that deter workers from using toilets and cut meal times to coerce workers to meet high production quotas. Workers also suffer verbal abuse from frontline supervisors and are humiliated in front of other workers. Moreover, to discipline workers, there is a wide range of arbitrary punitive fines imposed on them. Workers are intimidated and told to keep silent, with threats that their wages will be cut. These various punitive measures have led to increasing antagonism toward shop floor supervisors. We found scarce evidence of management’s attempts to improve this situation; on the contrary, the influx of new workers and rapid turnover of the work force have exacerbated management-worker relations.
What do you think? Should Apple completely rethink its supplier strategy? Or is this even Apple’s problem to deal with? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me @TiP_Kyle.