Apple responds to iPhone factory criticism

Ruben Fields
September 11, 2019

Additionally, the nonprofit watchdog alleges that workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, the largest iPhone factory in the world, are working extreme overtime hours in violation of local laws.

In the report released by the CLW, the organization said that in August 2019, around 50 percent of the workforce at Hon Hai's Zhengzhou plant were dispatch workers, even though China's labor law stipulated that temporary workers must not exceed 10 percent of a company's workforce.

Apple and its partner, Foxconn, is now under scrutiny due to their practices in making the latest iPhone 11. As most of you know, Foxconn is Apple's iPhone manufacturer, so the Cupertino-based company has run an investigation of its own and admitted that some of the allegations are true, but not all. Foxconn seemingly hires thousands of dispatch workers to speed up production and gradually meet the demand for iPhones in the holiday season every year. Thirty-six hours of overtime a month is the maximum allowed under Chinese law.

While the students left Apple's workforce in February, the company still had 30 percent dispatch workers in its workforce which is still not safe with the Chinese government's labor laws.

Apple said it learned that "the percentage of dispatch workers exceeded our standards", but said it was now coordinating with Foxconn to fix the problem. It said the interns worked overtime voluntarily and were properly compensated.

We looked into the claims by China Labor Watch and most of the allegations are false. Apple and Foxconn both said this issue has been corrected.

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To attract temporary workers for repetitive, low-paying assembly line jobs, agents often promise bonuses worth several times the worker's monthly salary.

Some dispatch workers have not received promised bonuses. These supposedly took place at the biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China. In the January interview, Li of CLW told Sixth Tone that Apple was intentionally using agencies and intermediaries to avoid culpability for labor rights violations.

Workers earn roughly $1.68 USA per hour standard and $2.52 United States per hour for overtime, a wage, "insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city", says China Labor Watch. It is unclear whether the matter was resolved, as the Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone's publicity office had not responded to Sixth Tone's questions sent by phone and email by time of publication. It added that when it finds issues, it works with suppliers to "take immediate corrective action".

"Apple has done very little to improve the rights of workers in their supplier factories", the executive summary continued.

Most factory workers are paid about CNY 4,000 (roughly Rs. 40,000) a month, one CLW investigator found.

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