In 2014 a report published by China Labor Watch (CLW) and Green America found a number of serious health and safety, environmental, and human rights violations at an Apple supplier factor in China.
CLW investigated the Apple suppliers, Catcher in April 2013. CLW said it reported its findings to Apple privately, after which Apple committed to reforming some of the problems. The report released in 2014 demonstrated that in the time that elapsed Apple did not make any progress on improving conditions for its workers.
Violations found at the factory included:
- Dumping of industrial fluids and waste into groundwater and nearby rivers
- Excessive hours for all workers, including student interns
- Forced overtime.
- Inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for handling toxic materials, such as metal cutting fluids.
An article published in the Economist on 14 March 2015 stated that Apple had discovered instances of unethical hiring practices in its supply chain. Apple reportedly said that if it found that a supplier was using recruiters who charged potential employees fees, it would insist that they were repaid.
Workers typically raised the cash by taking on debts that tied them to employers—a modern-day version of the ancient practice of bonded labour. Apple made suppliers reimburse around $4m collected in 2014 from some 4,500 workers, and had brought in checks to ensure the practice stopped.