Excessive overtime and poor safety accusations aimed at Apple supplier

Supplier Responsibility Progress Report

A worker in Apple’s Chinese supply chain.

Another Apple supplier is facing accusations concerning violations of labor rights and lapses in workplace safety.

The supplier in question is Taiwanese company Catcher Technology, which produces the metal casings for iPads as well as parts for the iPhone, plus components for other tech companies. The allegations concern a factory in the Chinese city of Suqian.

Among the accusations raised in a Thursday report by environmental nonprofit Green America and workers’ rights group China Labor Watch are the fact that employees are made to work excessive overtime hours, and handle toxic chemicals without the proper protective clothing.

In an undercover investigation carried out at the factory last month it was discovered that fire exits were locked, and highly flammable aluminum-magnesium alloy dust and shavings “filled the air and littered the floors of some workshops.”

Some employees were additionally found to be working up to 100 hours of overtime per month, and were failing to receive the social insurance payments required under Chinese law. Workers were also reportedly required to sign a form stating that they had completed safety training, even though none had been carried out.

In a statement, Apple says that during its most recent audit of the Suqian factory in May, it “found some concrete areas for improvement in Catcher’s operations, and we worked with Catcher to develop a corrective action plan.”

“We are deeply concerned about the claims made by China Labor Watch, and we take the report very seriously,” Catcher Technology said in its own statement. “We are committed to following Apple’s supplier code of conduct and will investigate thoroughly.”

Although it has come under fire for the actions of certain of its suppliers, Apple under Tim Cook has been committed to fighting for worker conditions in its supply chain. In the company’s eighth annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report released earlier this year, the company stressed the importance of providing the 1 million+ people working in its supply chain with “safe and ethical working conditions.”

In August this year it was reported that Catcher Technology had its second best month in history, with monthly earnings of $154.6 million, thanks to work on the iPhone line.

  • Matt

    Disgusting. They should bring some of that factory work to the U.S. or Europe.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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