Apple says that it is working to fix a problem in which too many temporary workers were found illegally working on the iPhone line at a Foxconn factory.
Over the weekend, New York-based watchdog China Labor Watch published a report about alleged violations. These supposedly took place at the biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China.
However, while Apple acknowledges the group’s point about temporary workers, it maintains the other findings are inaccurate.
In August, China Labor Watch says that half the people working on Apple’s iPhone production line at the Foxconn factory were temporary workers. This violates a Chinese law stating that just 10% of workers can be temporary employees.
The labor watchdog says that workers on the Foxconn factory line earned a base wage of 2,100 yuan ($295.) China Labor Watch claims this is, “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city.”
It also says that workers worked “at least 100 overtime hours a month” during peak production seasons. This is despite Chinese labor laws saying that workers must not work more than 36 overtime hours per month. Regular employees are reportedly not allowed to resign from the Foxconn factory during peak season.
In addition, student employees supposedly worked illegal overtime. There were also complaints that some temporary workers did not receive promised bonuses. Finally, the Foxconn factory supposedly does not provide necessary safety equipment or training.
Foxconn factory complaints
Apple has disputed the accuracy of many of these complaints. However, it seemingly agrees that the number of temporary workers is too high. “We are working closely with Foxconn to resolve this,” the company said.
Labor complaints involving its suppliers have plagued Apple over the years. These emerged during Steve Jobs’ tenure at Apple when there were multiple suicides at Foxconn factories. At the time, Jobs’ response was criticized for seeming to downplay the problem.
Since then, Apple has continued to work hard to improve conditions in its supply chain. It frequently publishes audits of its suppliers. These reports reveal the progress that has been made. In Apple’s 2019 report, it listed one case of underage labor it had discovered in the supply chain. This 15-year-old employee obtained their job through use of false identification.
Working with Foxconn to resolve the problem
Responding to China Labor Watch’s Sunday complaint, Apple issued the following statement:
“We believe everyone in our supply chain should be treated with dignity and respect. To make sure our high standards are being adhered to, we have robust management systems in place beginning with training on workplace rights, on-site worker interviews, anonymous grievance channels and ongoing audits.
When we find issues, we work with our suppliers to take immediate corrective action.We looked into the claims by China Labor Watch and most of the allegations are false.
We have confirmed all workers are being compensated appropriately, including any overtime wages and bonuses, all overtime work was voluntary and there was no evidence of forced labor. 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.”