Apple.com has quite a detailed page about Labor and Human Rights, which goes into detail about being a member of the Fair Labor Association, ending indentured migrant labor, preventing underage labor, addressing excessive work hours, prohibiting discriminatory policies, and sourcing conflict-free materials. Despite saying they ‘prohibit practices that threaten the rights of workers, even when local laws and customs permit such practices,’ they have recently admitted that some of their suppliers continue to overwork and underpay their employees.
Foxconn, located in Taiwan, Apple’s most well known supplier who assembles most of their iPads, had numerous incidents of suicide in 2010, as well as the mass suicide threat in protest of working conditions that took place a few weeks ago. Imagine seeing a factory that has installed safety nets to prevent suicides from taking place, and think about what must truly going on behind those walls.
In an audit conducted at 229 factories, 93 were found to have workers working more than Apple’s 60-hour, six day limit, and 42 factories had been delaying paying wages and did not pay overtime. Worst of all, 5 of the factories were found to be employing underage children.
Put yourself in the Chinese workers shoes. Imagine you are working far away from your family for eleven months out of the year, and to top that off you are being forced to work 60+ hour weeks without earning overtime, you are exposed dangerous working conditions leading to blistered hands, breathing dust, and often times you haven’t received adequate training.
How does that make you feel about buying Apple products? Will you keep buying them despite the fact that Apple can’t seem to control what is going on at its supplier’s factories?
Please note the statistics in this video are from audits conducted for 2010.
Photo Credit – 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions