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Apple Blasted Again for Labor Practices in China

Paul Ausick

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is about to be pilloried again for “ethical and legal” labor violations at the Chinese factory of one of its parts suppliers. A watchdog group called China Labor Watch reports that the Wuxi manufacturing plant of Jabil Circuit Inc. (JBL) has failed to pay workers millions of dollars in overtime wages, demanded 100 hours of mandatory overtime pay per month, required more than 11 hours a day of standing work with no rests except a 30-minute meal break, and other violations.

In the report issued yesterday, China Labor Watch opens with this words:

It seems that wherever Apple Products are made, labor rights are infringed upon, even if the supplier factory is owned by a U.S.-based company.

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According to the report, the Jabil plant produces the rear plastic covers that will be used on the lower-cost iPhone 5C. A Wuxi plant worker receives a base wage of $245 a month, just over half the $472 monthly average wage for Wuxi workers who are employed in private industry and less than a third the $753 monthly average for a non-private industry employee.

On its corporate website Apple’s latest supplier responsibility report says, “Our Supplier Code of Conduct limits work weeks to 60 hours except in unusual circumstances, and all overtime must be voluntary.”

Apple claims that it now tracks work hours weekly for more than 1 million employees and publishes the data every month. As a result, the company’s suppliers “have achieved an average of 92 percent compliance across all work weeks, and the average hours worked per week was under 50.”

Apple has been forced to pay more attention to its suppliers’ practices following suicides and suicide attempts at a Foxconn plant in 2010. The company also has been accused of violating child labor laws but says that it found no instances “of underage labor at any of our final assembly suppliers” in 2012.

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