Workers in Apple plant in China reveal poor working conditions

Foreign Companies

Workers in an Apple supplier’s factory in Suqian, China have claimed that they are working in poor conditions in factories.

A report by Bloomberg that came out last January revealed the plight of workers at Catcher Technology Co.’s plant in the industrial city: hot workshops, harmful chemicals, and lack of proper protection like gloves and masks.

Apple sells over 200 million iPhones in a year, and outsources manufacturing jobs in countries like China, Taiwan, and Korea. Catcher Technology Co., a manufacturing complex in Suqian, makes parts of iPhones and MacBooks like such as casings.

Bloomberg interviewed some of the workers at Catcher, and it was revealed to them that the factory has a lot of violations, some of which include: the lack of goggles and earplugs for workers, badly-maintained cramped dorms, and overwork.

The workers reportedly make just a little over 4,000 yuan a month (around $2 an hour). “My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work,” said one worker who did not want to be named. “I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself.”

According to the Bloomberg report, advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW) spent three months of investigation on Catcher and found that there are major issues in terms of the workers’ schedules, and work safety. They also did dozens of interviews with people who work in the facility and provided photos of some areas, including the workers’ dormitories.

In addition, some sand-blasting workshop workers expressed that the face masks given by the company can clog up fast, with one worker saying that supervisors hand out better quality masks only when there’s going to be an inspection.

CLW said that there is a production line in Catcher is required to produce around 1,450 units in a span of 12 hours, including breaks. They also reportedly found that training for new staff only takes four hours (Catcher’s requirement on paper is 24 hours), with an instructor allegedly giving them the answers and asking them to sign forms saying that they received full training.

“Apple needs to uphold their claim of honouring Chinese law,” said CLW executive director Li Qiang.

Bloomberg said in its own investigation that some workers complained of the noises in the facility: “Catcher didn’t distribute earplugs to new recruits until well into their first month, according to two of the employees.”
The two companies, however, denied the claims.

Apple released a statement saying that they did not find any evidence of violations in the Catcher facility after they conducted their own interviews and did their own auditing. “We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made. We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain,” said an Apple spokeswoman.

Catcher, too, denied the claims of CLW, saying in a statement that they have “verified that none of the claims are accurate,” adding that Catcher was going to acquire another place near the dormitories to enhance the workers’ living standards.


Ofelia Sta. Maria

Ofelia is an experienced journalist covering the Chinese manufacturing sector for the English language market, sharing news and stories about the companies and people shaping the future of manufacturing in China.

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