CHINA - Apple and Other Big Companies
Working conditions at a Chinese factory supplying parts for Apple Inc
iPads and MacBooks are dangerous and have even deteriorated since they
were highlighted a year ago, two labor watchdogs said on Thursday.
Apple, however, said many of the problems were corrected after an inspection last week. U.S.-based China
Labor Watch and Green America said in a joint statement that an
investigation last month at Catcher Technology Co Ltd (Suqian), part of
Taiwan-based Catcher Technology Co Ltd, had found hazardous working
conditions, with flammable aluminum-magnesium alloy filings scattered on
the factory floor, and fire exits and windows locked.
did not receive proper safety training and were exposed to toxic
chemicals as they were not provided with protective equipment "in a
timely manner or at all," the groups said.
25-page report on the factory investigation, the latest of several to
criticize Apple suppliers over recent years, came just before the launch of the new iPhone 6. Apple has also come
under fire for lax security systems after photos of
celebrities stored in individual iCloud accounts were leaked online.
Labor Watch investigated the same factory in 2013 and found multiple
labor rights and safety violations. It said Apple had then promised
reforms by Catcher to improve conditions, but the companies had not
the investigator going into the factory in 2014 discovered numerous
additional violations that weren't found in 2013, as well as repeat
violations from year to year, suggesting that conditions may actually be
getting worse in the factory," the groups said in their report.
a brief emailed statement, Catcher said: "We are deeply concerned about
the claims made by China Labor Watch, and we take the report very
seriously. We are committed to following Apple's supplier code of
conduct and will investigate thoroughly."
Apple said its annual audit in May had found "some areas for improvement" at the factory, and it worked with Catcher on a plan to correct them.
had scheduled a follow-up visit next month to review their progress but
have dispatched a team there immediately to investigate this report,"
In previous reports on Apple's China-based supply chain, factories owned by Taiwan's Foxconn, the
name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, were accused of mistreating
workers, particularly after a string of employee suicides. In 2011,
three people died in a combustible dust explosion at a Foxconn facility
in Chengdu, China.
Factory safety has come under close scrutiny in China following an explosion that killed 75 people at an auto parts
plant in the eastern province of Jiangsu last month. The blast, which
also injured 185 people, occurred when a flame was lit in a room filled
with metal dust at the factory, which supplied parts for General Motors
Co and other automakers.
the explosion, China suspended work at more than 200 factories in
Jiangsu province, home to Catcher Technology's Suqian facility, for
safety checks as part of a nationwide review.
watchdogs' report said that after last month's Jiangsu explosion,
supervisors at Catcher had specifically mentioned the high flammability
of the plant's aluminum-magnesium alloy and the need to take precautions
to prevent fires.
"But, after this announcement, no new measures were taken to improve fire prevention or worker safety," the report said.