The China Labor Watch (CLW) has found Apple and Foxconn of violating Chinese labor law by using too many temporary workers in the world’s largest iPhone factory located in Zhengzhou, China. The claims were confirmed by both Apple and Foxconn.
Chinese labor laws allow for a maximum temporary workforce of 10% but in August, the Zhengzhou factory had over 50% of temporary dispatch workers. Undercover investigators from the China Labor Watch, a non-profit organization, worked in the plant to unearth this. One investigator worked in the plant for four years and found other lapses as well including harsh working conditions.
Apple and Foxconn have agreed to the violation in following the law and issued an official statement about it:
Apple said that, after conducting an investigation, it found the “percentage of dispatch workers exceeded our standards” and that it is “working closely with Foxconn to resolve this issue.” It added that when it finds issues, it works with suppliers to “take immediate corrective action.” Foxconn Technology Group also confirmed the dispatch worker violation following an operational review.
The CLW report claims that Apple is violating its own code of conduct and that it is “transferring costs from the trade war through their suppliers to workers and profiting from the exploitation of Chinese workers.”
The report from CLW makes a number of other allegations regarding the working conditions at the Zhengzhou factory. This includes resignations not being accepted at peak production periods, student workers doing overtime during peak production despite the law prohibiting this, workers staying back at the factory for unpaid night meetings, verbal abuse, lack of proper protective equipment for workers, and more.
Apple, on its part, says that all other allegations from the CLW are false. It said that less than 1% of its workforce comprised of student workers, with only a small part of them working overtime or night shifts.
“We looked into the claims by China Labor Watch and most of the allegations are false,” Apple said. “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.”
As per the report, Apple and Foxconn are looking to produce around 12,000 iPhones per shift at the factory. The workers required to build the iPhone XS last year were higher than the iPhone X since the former was more complex to build.
Despite Apple telling CLW that it is looking into its findings and sending an investigator to the factory, CLW claims that Apple and Foxconn are still violating the 10% temporary workforce rule. Compared to full-time employees, dispatch workers don’t get any medical or insurance benefits. They are also not directly on Foxconn’s payroll and are paid by third-party contractors.