On June 14th 2012, a Foxconn worker jumped to his death from his apartment building in Chengdu, marking the 18th reported worker suicide at Foxconn factories in China in just over two years. Many additional suicides may have gone unreported. But these deaths and the focus on conditions at Foxconn reflect only a portion of the troubling conditions at Apple suppliers.
China Labor Watch's investigation of other Apple suppliers in China reveals that serious work-related injuries and worker suicides are by no means isolated to just Foxconn but exist throughout Apple’s supply chain. For example, we found that at least two workers committed suicide at Flextronics’ factories last year (Ganzhou and Zhuhai) and that upwards of 59 workers were injured in explosions at Riteng’s Shanghai factory last December (both are Apple’s supplier fatories). More broadly, this investigation of ten different Apple factories in China finds that harmful, damaging work environments characterized by illegally long hours for low levels of pay are widespread in Apple’s supply, with working conditions frequently worse at suppliers other than Foxconn.
This four-month investigation conducted by China Labor Watch through April showed workers work up to 180 hours of overtime a month during peak periods, exceeding the legal limit of 36 hours per month, citing Riteng, a unit of Taiwan's Pegatron Corp, as an example. Riteng workers work almost 12 hours a day, longer than 10 hours a day at Foxconn, Apple's main supplier. The average hourly wage at Riteng is 8.2 yuan ($1.29), well below the average rate 10.2 yuan at Foxconn.
Apple must take on the responsibility of improving conditions in its supply chain and changing its purchasing system. We hope that Apple will respond to these investigative findings, which go well beyond that of the Fair Labor Association (in a study paid for by Apple). Unfortunately, Apple has never responded to any of China Labor Watch’s investigative findings. Apple has promised this year to improve working conditions in its Chinese supplier factories, but based on its track record of not meeting such promises in the past, we are compelled to ask: are these promises sincere or merely a public relations ploy?
To read more about the investigation report from China Labor Watch, click here: