Apple Supplier Blasted for Dangerous Working Conditions in China

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2014-09-04 Print this article Print

In an email to eWEEK, an Apple spokesperson provided the following statement:

"Apple is committed to ensuring safe and fair working conditions for everyone in our supply chain. We are the only technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association, and our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple.

"We know our work is never done, and we are devoted to constant improvement. Last year we conducted 451 audits deep into our supply chain so we could uncover problems and work with our suppliers to fix them, and we make it a priority to investigate every specific concern brought to our attention. 

"Catcher Technology's Suqian facility makes aluminum enclosures for MacBook and iPad, and our inspectors are there constantly. We audit the facility's aluminum wet-polishing systems every month and consistently find that they exceed international safety standards. As a result of our quarterly fire-safety inspections, the most recent of which happened last week, Catcher has made same-day repairs of broken and expired fire extinguishers, unblocked corridors and fire exits, and added missing emergency exit signs. 

"Our most recent annual audit, in May, found some concrete areas for improvement in Catcher's operations, and we worked with Catcher to develop a corrective action plan. We had scheduled a follow-up visit next month to review their progress but have dispatched a team there immediately to investigate this report.

"Excessive overtime is not in anyone's best interest, and we work closely with our suppliers to prevent it. We track and report the weekly working hours for more than 1 million workers, and, through the end of August, Catcher has averaged 95 percent compliance with our 60-hour workweek limit this year. 

"Catcher is among the 160 suppliers enrolled in our 18-month Apple Supplier EHS Academy training program, which we launched last year to raise the bar for environment, health and safety management in the industry."

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has repeatedly faced criticism for the treatment of workers who manufacture in-demand products such as the iPhone and iPad.

In 2010, the suicides of eight workers in a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China, were widely reported to have been caused by long hours and grueling conditions at the site. That same year, then-COO Tim Cook and other senior staffers visited the factory and met with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou to assess the situation and "better understand the conditions of the site and to assess the emergency measures Foxconn was putting in place to prevent more suicides," stated a 2011 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report published by the company.


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