Sep 11, 2019

Apple in Chaos as Manufacturer Violates Chinese Labor Laws

As the people are excited over the iPhone 11 launch today, Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn has allegedly broken Chinese labor laws and Apple is in a big mess.

At the iPhone manufacturing plant, the largest Apple assembly plant in the world based in Zhengzhou, China, Foxconn has as it is said 'bitten more than it could chew'. The result of which the company has been heaped with allegations left, right and center. Apple being the reputable company that it is, while having accepted some of the allegations poured on its partner as true, have not failed to deny some, and that is to be expected. According to Apple:

"We looked into the claims by China Labor Watch and most of the allegations are false. We have confirmed all workers are being compensated appropriately, including any overtime wages and bonuses, all overtime work was voluntary and there was no evidence of forced labor".

The China Labor Watch claims that as of August, about 50% of the total workforce employed at the Zhengzhou factory are "dispatch" workers (temporary hires), going against the Chinese labor law which states, among other things, that the number of temporary workers employed in a company cannot in any circumstances be above 10% of the total employed workforce. Does it even make things any better to say that a number of these workers are student interns?

Even though as it stands, and according to the labor supervisory body, some of the students have returned to school this September, the number of these "dispatch" workers are still above the stipulated numbers by the Chinese law.

Foxconn itself has pointed out that after reviewing its operations in Zhengzhou, it has observed some anomalies as regards to its employees, which do not comply with the stipulated modus operandi. Speaking to CNBC on the issue, the company stated:

"We did find evidence that the use of dispatch workers and the number of hours of overtime work carried out by employees, which we have confirmed was always voluntary, was not consistent with company's guidelines. We did determine that the affected workers were paid all earned overtime and related bonus payments".

Apple also chipped in that having investigated the matter, it too found out that the number of impermanent workers were over the top, hence it is working with Foxconn to resolve the issue.

Aside the problem of temporary workers exceeding the standard numbers, some of the other issues pointed out include that:

・Workers in the factory, including internship students, work about an extra 100 hours per month at any period when production is at its peak, and that no regular worker is allowed to resign during such periods.

・Work injuries are never recounted by the factory.

・Some dispatch workers are never given their bonuses, etc.

All of these problems exist, despite the fact that workers are paid a starting wage of 2,100 yuan (about PHP 15,400).

In a bid to avoid problems like this, Apple had strived in the past to keep things smooth between suppliers and their employees by urging its suppliers, of which Foxconn is one, to work on their labor practices if they are to continue supplying Apple. It even publishes a yearly supplier responsibility report that marks improvements in regard to supplier-employee stability and relationship. It remains for Foxconn to play its roles in this as completely as possible. If it had done so in the first place, there wouldn't be any issues.

As the iPhone 11 will be available to the public soon, we hope this report doesn't get in the way of its sales.

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