Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apple Screen Supplier Accused Of Worker Abuse

Reports are surfacing regarding the alleged abuse of worker’s rights in yet another Chinese factory that supplies companies like Apple, Samsung, and HTC with parts for their smartphones. This time the report focuses on Biel Crystal Manufactory, a company that supplies screens for the iPhone to Apple.

Undercover Investigation

According to a report released by the Students Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, also known as SACOM, employees must work for all but one day each month. Each workday is allegedly eleven hours long, which equals three hours of required overtime daily.

The report is built from research that was carried out through 60 off-site interviews with employees. SACOM also launched an undercover investigation into the factories owned by Biel Crystal Manufactory. Biel is one of the largest glass producers in the mobile industry, and reportedly accounts for 60 percent of the glass used by Apple in its products. Samsung receives 20 percent of its glass from the supplier, and other noted customers are HTC, Nokia, and Lenovo.

Worker Speaks Out

One worker interviewed from the quality control area of the company gave the following statement to SACOM:

"Biel has a lot of orders from Apple and Samsung. There's no such thing as peak or non-peak seasons in the factory. Almost every month is a peak season, and we just work and work. We have to work three hours overtime every day from Mondays to Fridays, and we work another two full days (meaning 11 hours per day) on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no break at all until we shift duty at the end of each month."

Safety Is Disregarded

SACOM, which is based in Hong Kong, also claims that Biel is not meeting safety requirements set by the Chinese government. Many of the workers who are injured in the factories are allegedly denied compensation for their injuries. The report also claims that employees have been fined for not meeting production quotas or for falling asleep on the job. Other fines have been levied if a worker breaks glass.
SACOM says the employees are forced to sign a blank contract, which is then required to be returned to the company when the worker decides to quit. This eliminates the ties between the employee and the employer, protecting Biel from lawsuits levied in the future.
Suicide is another issue noted in the report, with one factory in Guangdong reporting five workers having killed themselves in the last three years alone.

Apple’s Response

Apple has responded to the report in a statement to Reuters, saying:

"We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Every year, Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2012, we conducted 393 audits at supplier facilities around the world."