FACTORY workers making Apple's gadgets lead worse lives than those at the militaristic Foxconn facility, which was hit by a spate of worker suicides two years ago, according to a report published yesterday.
An investigation by China Labour Watch (CLW) found "deplorable" conditions, including a basic 11-hour day, excessive overtime, low wages, overcrowded and dirty dormitories and hazardous working conditions. Other problems included inadequate trade unions, excessive use of agency labour, poor food and routine cheating of overtime pay.
Apple admitted it had a human rights problem at its biggest Chinese supplier, Foxconn, in February, when it launched an investigation by the Fair Labour Association (FLA) following the suicide or attempted suicide of 13 staff.
In a report in March, the FLA found "serious and pressing" concerns over excessive working hours, unpaid overtime and health and safety failings, prompting Foxconn and Apple to promise they would end the abuses within a year.
But according to CLW -- which investigated 10 Apple suppliers in the first four months of this year -- abuses exist across Apple's Chinese suppliers and are worse at non-Foxconn factories. CLW said workers could take off one day a month, but, sometimes during peak demand, they worked every day for several months.
All the factories except Foxconn City made heavy use of short-term "despatched labour", whose pay and conditions were worse than contracted staff.
Apple did not dispute CLW's findings. Kristin Huguet, spokeswoman for the company, wrote: "Our team has conducted thorough audits at every facility in China Labour Watch's report. In some places, our auditors found issues similar to those described by China Labour Watch, including overtime violations." (©Independent News Service)