Sunday 17 December 2017

Apple supplier accused of 'dangerous' working conditions

Apple Inc
Apple Inc

Se Young Lee

Working conditions at a Chinese factory supplying parts for Apple iPads and MacBooks are dangerous and have even deteriorated since they were highlighted a year ago, two watchdogs said yesterday.

Apple, however, said many of the problems were corrected after an inspection last week.

US-based China Labor Watch and Green America said in a joint statement that an investigation last month at Catcher Technology Co Ltd, part of Taiwan-based Catcher Technology Co Ltd, had found hazardous working conditions, with flammable aluminum-magnesium alloy filings scattered on the factory floor, and fire exits and windows locked.

Workers did not receive proper safety training and were exposed to toxic chemicals as they were not provided with protective equipment "in a timely manner or at all," the groups said.

A 25-page report on the factory investigation, the latest of several to criticise Apple suppliers over recent years, comes just before the expected launch on Tuesday of the new iPhone 6.

Apple has also come under fire this week for lax security systems after photos of celebrities stored in individual iCloud accounts were leaked online.

China Labor Watch investigated the same factory in 2013 and found multiple worker rights and safety violations. It said Apple had then promised reforms by Catcher to improve conditions, but the companies had not delivered.

"In fact, the investigator going into the factory in 2014 discovered numerous additional violations that weren't found in 2013, as well as repeat violations from year to year, suggesting that conditions may actually be getting worse in the factory," the groups said in their report.

In a brief emailed statement, Catcher said: "We are deeply concerned about the claims made by China Labor Watch, and we take the report very seriously. We are committed to following Apple's supplier code of conduct and will investigate thoroughly."

In a separate statement, Apple praised the Suqian facility for consistently exceeding international safety standards.

"As a result of our quarterly fire-safety inspections, the most recent of which happened last week, Catcher has made same-day repairs of broken and expired fire extinguishers, unblocked corridors and fire exits, and added missing emergency exit signs," the statement said.

Apple said its annual audit in May had found "some concrete areas for improvement" at the factory.

Irish Independent

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