Apple, Foxconn violated Chinese labor law for iPhone manufacturing

Joanna Estrada
September 12, 2019

Investigators went undercover for as long as four years to uncover working conditions in the factory. Additionally, the nonprofit watchdog alleges that workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, the largest iPhone factory in the world, are working extreme overtime hours in violation of local laws.

One temporary worker jumped to his death from a Zhengzhou Foxconn factory dormitory in 2018 reportedly because he did not receive his bonus, The South China Morning Post reported.

The work rights bunch China Labor Watch (CLW) distributed a report on Sunday (Sept. 8) enumerating work infringement at a Foxconn processing plant in Zhengzhou that makes items for the Apple organization. The investigation found that temporary staff, known as dispatch workers, accounted for almost 50 percent of the workforce in August, while Chinese labor law stipulates a maximum of 10 percent, CLW said.

Foxconn separately confirmed over-reliance on temporary workers, known internally dispatch workers, Reuters said. Foxconn seemingly hires thousands of dispatch workers to speed up production and gradually meet the demand for iPhones in the holiday season every year.

In a statement, Apple said that it had investigated the percentage of temporary workers among the overall workforce and found it "exceeded our standards".

"At no time did we find any evidence of forced labour and we can confirm that this facility now has no interns working overtime", the statement said. Foxconn says that overtime is voluntary, however.

The CLW report claims workers at the Zhengzhou plant must get approval to not do overtime.

"Our work to address the issues identified in our Zhengzhou facility continues", Foxconn said. Dispatch workers are essentially temporary staff that do not receive certain benefits.

Earlier this year, media reports said Apple was considering moving some operations out of China to avoid new US tariffs, with Japan's Nikkei Asian Review in June putting the figure at 15% to 30% of production.

Apple said the amount of temporary workers "exceeded our standards" (as it did the standards of Chinese law).

China Labor Watch has been monitoring labour conditions in China since the year 2000 and has spent years compiling this latest report, according to the group.

Other allegations raised by CLW include improper pay, refusal to accept resignations and forced and unpaid overtime work, among others. "There have been intervals exactly where employees have one relaxation day for each 13 days labored or even have only a single rest working day for a month".

Workers are also punished for not meeting stringent quotas, according to the nonprofit organisation.

Apple and Foxconn were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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