Apple's Chinese Suppliers Accused of Labor Violations Ahead of iPhone 6 Launch

An watchdog investigation determined employees were faced with unsafe working conditions and crazy schedules.

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China Labor Watch, a non-profit watchdog group, has found a number of issues inside Apple's factories. An investigation conducted along with Green America, determined employees at these overseas suppliers were faced with unsafe working conditions and crazy schedules. They investigated the Catcher Technology factory, a 20,000-person facility that produces parts for the MacBook and iPad, as well as a number of other technology firms, including Sony, HTC, and Motorola.

In a statement, Todd Larsen, the corporate responsibility director for Green America, said, "The investigation of Catcher Technology raises serious concerns around working conditions in Apple’s second-tier supplier factories. 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.”

Some of the issues inside the factory include aluminum shavings on the floor, dusty conditions (which can be quite flammable conditions), and improper ventilation. Safety exits were blocked and the 20,000 employees have not gone through a fire drill in 2014. The aluminum shavings are of particular note, as they have been linked to prior Apple factory explosions. Apple is aware of this new report and has sent a team to "immediately" investigate. 

China Labor Watch also found similar issues in 2013, Apple has been dealing with clearly these since that time. "Last year we conducted 451 audits deep into our supply chain so we could uncover problems and work with our suppliers to fix them, and we make it a priority to investigate every specific concern brought to our attention," the company said in a statement to Re/code.

Additionally, overtime labor is a problem. Many employees work 10-hour days and China Labor Watch estimates that these employees end up working six hours of unpaid overtime a month. There is a 60-hour workweek limit which Apple believes they are 95 percent compliant with. Apple offered only a vague comment on that issue, saying "Excessive overtime is not in anyone’s best interest. And we work closely with our suppliers to prevent it."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.