Apple criticised over iPhone factory working conditions

10 September 2013

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11 September 2013 | Will Green

A factory in China producing Apple iPhones has committed “ethical and legal labour violations”, according to pressure group China Labor Watch (CLW). 

Following an undercover investigation, CLW claimed workers at the Jabil Green Point factory in Wuxi are forced to do overtime, must stand for more than 11 hours a day with inadequate breaks, receive inadequate training and face hiring discrimination.

CLW said practices not only breached Apple’s code of standards but also local Chinese labour laws.

The pressure group said the factory, owned by Jabil Circuit an electronics firm headquartered in the US, was producing iPhones and a new lower-cost version of the device for Apple.

Apple said it had a team of experts on site investigating the claims.

In a report CLW said issues included “millions of dollars of unpaid overtime”, “over 100 hours of monthly mandatory overtime, three times in excess of legal limits” and crowded dormitories.

The report said the 30,000 workers at Jabil Wuxi were typically paid a base salary of $245 (£155) a month and they had to work long overtime to earn a living wage.

CLW said: “Despite half a decade of outside investigations and self-reporting on myriad labour abuse throughout its Chinese supply chain, Apple has continually failed to compel supplier factories to conform to Apple’s code of conduct and local labour laws before giving these suppliers Apple production orders.” 

Apple said it was the first and only technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association and it had conducted three audits at Jabil Wuxi in the past three years as part of its supplier responsibility programme.

A spokesman said: “We take any concerns about our suppliers very seriously, and our team of experts is on-site at Jabil Wuxi to look into the new claims about conditions there. Jabil has a proactive auditing program of their own and they have an excellent track record of meeting Apple's high standards.

“Employees at Jabil are among the one million workers in Apple's supply chain whose working hours we track each week and report on our website. Year to date, Jabil Wuxi has performed above our 92 per cent average for compliance with Apple's 60-hour per week limit. An audit completed earlier this year did find that some employees had worked more than six consecutive days without a day of rest, and Jabil has been working with our team to better manage overtime.”

Jabil Circuit did not respond to SM’s request for comment.

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