Apple under fire for China factory conditions as iPhone launched

“A labour rights group marked the launch of Apple’s latest iPhone Friday with a report accusing one of the smartphone giant’s Chinese suppliers of exploiting factory workers,” AFP reports. “Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) say Lens Technology, which makes touchscreen glass, used forced overtime, withheld wages and risked workers’ health after a months-long investigation into three of its factories.”

“As the iPhone 6s went on sale in markets including Hong Kong, Japan and mainland China on Friday, SACOM called for Apple to ‘apply immediate measures to rectify exploitations in its supply chain… We urge Apple Inc. to fulfil its corporate responsibility… to give workers a workplace with dignity and respect,’ it said in a statement,” AFP reports. “The rights group’s allegations include workers going for a month without a day off, wages being withheld for weeks and that the company failed to pay social security.”

“It sent undercover workers into factories, as well as interviewing workers off-site. SACOM was due to deliver its new report on Friday to Apple and Lens Technology, based in the southern Chinese province of Hunan,” AFP reports. “Around 10 protesters gathered outside one of Apple’s largest stores in Hong Kong Friday morning, holding giant phones with the slogan ‘Throw Away The Bad Apple.'”

“Lens Technology also supplies Samsung and other leading tech firms. It primarily makes touch-sensitive glass covers for mobile phones, computers and cameras,” AFP reports. “SACOM spokeswoman Liang Pui-kwan said the group was not only targeting Apple. ‘But Apple is the richest and has the biggest ability to make change and bring the industry forward,’ she said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Which is also why they’re issuing press releases and protesting on the day a new iPhone launches, of course.

AFP reports, “‘We’re trying to bring the facts in front of people and let them know what they are choosing.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Lens Technology also supplies Samsung and other leading tech firms.” No company has done more to improve working conditions for Chinese factory workers than Apple Inc. So, choose away!

What Apple does to insure supplier responsibility around the world is unmatched. More info: apple.com/supplier-responsibility

19 Comments

  1. How come the Chinese government doesn’t seem to care about their own workers? Why is it the American’s that have to tell the Chinese how to conduct their business.

    1. It isn’t just Americans fighting against abusive work conditions.
      Also, don’t worry – the U.S. government doesn’t care about its own workers, either. It’s very important, when thinking about ANY country, to distinguish between the government and the people. They are often not in agreement, even in supposedly representative governments.

      People care about people. People who love power care about getting power.

      That’s the difference.

    2. The idea of “giving workers a workplace with dignity and respect”, flies smack in the face of the reason we moved all of our manufacturing jobs to China in the first place. Our corporations should fight this flagrant attack on their god-given right to maximize profits. What’s next, labor unions? Gimme a friggin’ break!
      Our only consolation is that in the future, we’ll have humanoid robots that will respect our innate corporate rights to have workers that are true slaves.

        1. Average Chinese worker earns about $0.80 – $1.20 per hour. Average American assembly-line worker, about ten – fifteen times that.

          If we were to move manufacturing to America, your iPhone would have to cost $3,000 (instead of $650) in order for Apple to break even on it. Clearly, you would be willing to pay that if it meant bringing jobs back to America, but I doubt many other Americans would.

          1. Foxconn does not hire AVERAGE Chinese workers. The “average” you speak of include the much poorer (agriculture based) regions of Western China. Average wages along the eastern seaboard are much, MUCH higher, as is that populations’ education level. Even then, claims of average wages of $0.80 – $1.20 an hour are an outright lie.

            One of the primary reasons Apple manufactures in China is the number of engineers Chinese Universities graduation each year. US industry has to import engineers from around the world to meet its needs (that ARE NOT wage restricted).

            Forty years ago China recognized the future needs of the world’s electronics manufacturers and set out to create an environment (that included trade free zones, centralized manufacturing areas where manufacturers and suppliers could co-locate, highly educated work force, etc). China also recognized that any job was better than no job, AND THAT over time wages and working conditions would improve as demand for China’s increasingly experienced work force grew.

            Today China’s middle class increases by about 50 million each year (a sum equal to about 12% of the total US population). This is not possible on $0.80 – $1.20 an hour wages. A people making $1.00/hour do not become the world’s largest buyers of $1,000 iPhones.

            I have travelled to China on business and pleasure several times since 1997. The China I see today is unrecognizable from the China I first saw in 1997. It would be nice if those spouting facts actually knew what they were talking about.

        1. Not exactly. Apple estimated that in the current retail price, manufacturing labour represents rather small percentage of the price of the phone. However, if that part of the cost of the iPhone were to increase fifteen-fold, then it would become the major part of the price, which would have to baloon to over $3,000 in order for Apple to break even.

  2. Where does Corning fit into this?

    “‘We’re trying to bring the facts in front of people and let them know what they are choosing.'”

    Choosing? Who’s choosing? The choice is to have or not have. The choice is to be a part of modern society or not. The choice is to have a fair advantage or stay behind.

    Should we strive to improve work conditions? YES, for anyone and everyone. But let’s be real here, the consumer does not have a say in this, not if you can’t prove there are alternative consumer solutions other than not participating at all.

  3. Apple doesn’t own Lens Technology, or ANY of the other Chinese factories. Apple is NOT at fault or at all to blame for conditions in those factories.

    As pointed out, every other tech company in the world uses the same factories, but they are never, ever called out.

    Apple has done its part time and time again to improve working conditions in factories they use, but its really not Apple’s monkey.

    3-4 years ago didn’t someone interview some workers offsite? If I remember the employee responses correctly, they were happy to employed at the high tech factories. They were paid better than whatever employment they could find otherwise, and conditions were already better than they previously experienced.

    Maybe these activist groups need to focus their attention and efforts where it belongs; the Chinese government, or target every other tech company that uses the facility, or shut the hell up and go home.

    Yeah, I know, it wouldn’t be as headline grabbing and attention getting if they didn’t bash Apple

  4. Here’s a thought: WHO CARES? At worst, its a domestic Chinese issue. And if the Chinese don’t care, why should we who are not living in China care?

    WHO CARES? Not our problem.

  5. Pick on Apple, the best of the bunch. Nothing new.

    But I do encourage SACOM to continue their work. Capitalism falls on its face when anyone in the system is abused, including the workers. Meanwhile: Of course this is happening in China. Anyone is surprised?

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