China Labor Watch Slams Apple for Foxconn's Labor Law Violations in Making iPhones prior to the Debut of iPhone 11
On paper, China Labor Watch is an organization that works closely with unions and labor groups to investigate and pressure large companies with deep pockets like Apple, Foxconn, Samsung, Walmart, Disney, Nike, Adidas to fix working conditions.
Patently Apple has written at least four report about China Labor Watch investigating Apple since 2012 (01, 02 & 03). Our fourth report titled "The BBC Report About Apple is Motivated by Politics and Unions," is perhaps the most important in that it exposed the bias on the part of the BBC, links to big labor unions and leaders like Ralph Nader in an effort to smear Apple.
Late on Sunday China Labor Watch once again went into attack mode against Apple with a new report titled "Phone 11 Illegally Produced in China: Apple Allows Supplier Factory Foxconn to Violate Labor Laws."
While the Foxconn plant is in the process of manufacturing Apple's iPhone 11 at this very moment, the timing of the China Labor Watch report published Sunday one day prior to the debut of the iPhone 11 appears to be strategic in smearing Apple's reputation prior to the launch – especially in China. I'm sure that Huawei and Apple's other Chinese competitors couldn't be happier about this negative report that they could use against Apple.
The China Labor Watch report found that more than half of the workforce employed in August at the largest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, were temporary hires — or 'dispatch' workers, which included student interns.
Chinese labor law states that temporary hires cannot exceed 10% of the total employed workers. In September, many of those student workers returned to school, which led to a decrease in the number of temporary workers, but it was still greater than what Chinese law stipulates, according to China Labor Watch.
Apple's official response was as follows: "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."
Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, says: “Apple and Foxconn know that the issue with dispatch workers is in violation of labor laws, but because it is profitable to hire dispatch workers, they haven’t addressed the issue. They have allowed these violations to continue over the years.”
Summary of rights violations at Zhengzhou Foxconn:
- New workers have a probationary period of three months and if they wish to resign during this time, they must apply three days in advance.
- During peak season, regular workers’ resignations won’t be approved.
- After completing resignation procedures, factories will pay workers in around two weeks with no pay stub provided that month.
- Some dispatch workers failed to receive their promised bonuses from the dispatch company.
- The factory does not pay social insurance for the dispatched workers.
- In 2018, dispatch workers made up 55% of the workforce. Chinese labor law stipulates that dispatch workers must not exceed 10% of the workforce. In August 2019, around 50% of the workforce were dispatch workers.
- During peak production season, student workers must work overtime. However, according to regulations on student internships, students are not to work overtime or night shifts.
- Chinese labor law mandates that workers must not work more than 36 overtime hours a month. However, during the peak production seasons, workers at Zhengzhou Foxconn put in at least 100 overtime hours a month. There have been periods where workers have one rest day for every 13 days worked or even have only one rest day for a month.
- Workers have to receive approval not to work overtime. If workers do not receive approval and choose not to work overtime anyway, they will be admonished by the line manager and will not be working overtime in the future.
- If work is not completed by the time the shift ends, workers must work overtime and workers are not paid for this. If there are abnormalities at work, they must work overtime until the issue has been addressed, and work done during this time is also unpaid.
- Workers sometimes have to stay back for night meetings at work, and this time is unpaid.
- The factory does not provide workers with adequate personal protective equipment and workers do not receive any occupational health and safety training.
- The factory does not provide a single training class on fire safety and other relevant knowledge.
- The chairman of the labor union is always appointed by the factory, not elected by the workers, and the chairman is always the department leader or manager.
- The factory does not report work injuries
- Verbal abuse is common at the factory.
- The factory recruits student workers through dispatch companies, as student workers sent by schools are subject to many restrictions.
- The factory violates the “The Administrative Provisions on the Internships of Vocational School Students” which stipulates that student workers cannot be recruited by agencies or dispatch companies but only schools.
You could read the full China Labor Watch report here, dated September 8, 2019.