Apple factory’s brutal conditions exposed
EMPLOYEES at a giant Chinese factory which supplies parts to tech giant Apple are enduring 10-hour shifts while exposed to noisy and toxic conditions, it has been claimed.
New York-based NGO China Labor Watch says the assembly workers are paid as little as $364 a month while working in cramped workshops.
It also claims at the end of their shifts the under-pressure workers return to dirty eight-person dormitories with cold running showers.
Catcher, the Apple supplier at the centre of the claims, has today vehemently denied the allegations.
Apple also said its own investigation team "found no evidence that Catcher was violating" its standards at its plant in Suqian, about 482km north-west of Shanghai.
The factory is reported to produce parts for Macbook, iPhone and iPad.
The alleged revelations come just 10 days after a worker from another Chinese factory producing Apple's iPhone allegedly died after jumping from a 12-storey window.
Li Qiang, the founder and executive director of the group, said he sent an undercover investigator to work at Catcher for three months.
The resulting report, published on January 16, said workers without proper gloves had irritated, peeling skin on their hands.
China Labor Watch added the main door of the workshop opened only 30cm and dormitories lacked emergency exits - both clear fire hazards.
The charges highlight the difficulty of managing complex global supply chains even for companies, like Apple, that have publicly embraced ethical sourcing as a business priority.
Catcher said today in a statement that it had investigated and "verified that none of the claims are accurate".
It also said it was about to acquire land near the factory to build new dormitories because it was "driven to enhance the living standard for our employees".
The report included photographs of cramped, slovenly dormitories and photos of foamy wastewater that China Labor Watch said was overflowing on to sidewalks.
"Apple needs to uphold their claim of honouring Chinese law," Mr Qiang said in a statement.
Back in 2013 and 2014, the organisation investigated the same factory and flagged similar safety and labour rights violations.
Apple said it maintains a monitoring team on-site at the Catcher factory, which has made "significant progress" in raising standards since 2012.
In response to China Labor Watch's allegations, Apple said it sent an investigative team to Suqian to interview over 150 workers but "found no evidence that Catcher was violating our standards".
"We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that's made," an Apple spokesperson said on Wednesday.
"We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain and make a positive impact on the environment."