Apple under fire for factory conditions

  • 25/09/2015

A labour rights group has marked the launch of Apple's latest iPhone with a report accusing one of the smartphone giant's Chinese suppliers of exploiting factory workers.

Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) say Lens Technology, which makes touchscreen glass, uses forced overtime, withholds wages and risks workers' health after a months-long investigation into three of its factories.

Company founder Zhou Qunfei, herself a former factory worker, became China's richest woman after Lens Technology's debut on the stock exchange in March.

As the iPhone 6s went on sale around the world, SACOM called for Apple to "apply immediate measures to rectify exploitations in its supply chain".

"We urge Apple Inc. to fulfil its corporate responsibility... to give workers a workplace with dignity and respect," it said in a statement.

The rights group's allegations include workers going for a month without a day off, wages being withheld for weeks and that the company failed to pay social security.

"Dust, noise, polluted water and chemical substances are common problems on the shop floor," it added, with management "ignoring if workers were well-protected".

It sent undercover workers into factories, as well as interviewing workers off-site.

But the hundreds of customers who had pre-ordered one of the new phones were largely oblivious.

"I think bad conditions happen to all brands," said James Leung, 30, who was waiting to pick up a rose-gold phone for his wife, which he said cost him HK$5,000.

"For me, I need a phone, so I'll get a new phone."