Apple supplier breaches code of conduct
An investigation by China Labour Watch and Green America has found numerous environmental, and human rights violations at an Apple supplier factory.
The investigation of Apple supplier Catcher located in Jiangsu, China found:
- Dumping of industrial fluids and waste into groundwater and nearby rivers
- Many student workers (16-18 years old) are employed in the same positions as adults, 10+ hour days
- Excessive hours for all workers, including student interns
- Forced overtime. Workers are not allowed to turn down requests they work overtime An estimated 6 hours of unpaid overtime per worker per month (Roughly $290,000 in owed wages for all employees)
- Hiring discrimination based on age and presence of tattoos
- A grievance process that retaliates against workers for raising valid workplace issues
- Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for handling toxic materials, such as metal cutting fluids. Skin is exposed directly to these toxins and there are no ventilator masks
- Locked safety exits. There is no means of rapid egress if there is a fire or explosion.
- Workers have not participated in fire drills in the past year
- A lack of safety training for workers
The campaigners say that these findings are in violation of Chinese law and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct.
Catcher manufactures metal iPad, MacBook, and iPhone covers in its Suqian facilities. CLW investigated this factory in April 2013 and found many of the same violations. At that time, CLW reported its findings to Apple privately, after which Apple committed to reforming some of the problems. The new report demonstrates that in the following 16 months, Apple has not made progress with this supplier to improve conditions for its workers.
“CLW’s investigation exposed more than 20 legal and ethical violations at the Catcher factory,” said Kevin Slaten, program coordinator at CLW. “Workers must take mandatory overtime, laboring on their feet for more than 10 hours a day, six days a week, and they are not even paid for all of that overtime work. This is exploitation by the factory and Apple for the sake of profit maximization.”
“The investigation of Catcher Technology raises serious concerns around working conditions in Apple’s second-tier supplier factories,” stated Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility director for Green America. “We knew that we needed to make this information public to encourage Apple to take immediate next steps in addressing toxins and unsafe working conditions in their factories as Apple continues to ramp up production of the iPhone 6. Last month, Apple announced several commitments to protect workers in its first-tier factories from benzene and n-hexane, and now it needs to build on those commitments to address workers farther down its supply chain.”
Apple will be featued in our guide to laptops due out in October 2014.
This story has been added to our corporate database. The database powers all our live product guides, giving the score for each company on our rankings tables. Find out more about how we rate companies.
Ethical Consumer on Google+