Apple checking claims of labor abuse at Wuxi plant


Sat, Sep 07, 2013 - Page 15

Apple Inc said it is looking into claims of labor abuses at a Jabil Circuit Inc factory in China where a workers’ group said a component for a new iPhone is being made.

A report by China Labor Watch accuses St Petersburg, Florida-based Jabil of violations, including excessive working hours, forcing female workers to accept pregnancy tests to be hired and providing only five minutes to eat meals.

The report is the latest accusation Apple has faced for its labor practices. Apple designs its products at its headquarters, then relies on a network of suppliers and contract manufacturers to build them.

Jabil’s alleged violations were documented at a plant in Wuxi, China, which China Labor Watch said builds the rear plastic covers for a less-expensive iPhone that Apple is set to unveil on Wednesday.

“We take any concerns about our suppliers very seriously, and our team of experts is on-site at Jabil Wuxi to look into the new claims about conditions there,” said Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple. “Jabil has a proactive auditing program of their own and they have an excellent track record of meeting Apple’s high standards.”

At the Jabil factory, a typical monthly base salary is US$245, the report said.

Workers are required to conduct 11 hours of unpaid overtime every month. To get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, a worker must get permission from their supervisor. Crowded dormitories have eight people sharing a room, the report said.

“Apple’s products are manufactured at the expense of Chinese workers, laboring in factories owned by Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and, in the case of Jabil, US-owned companies,” China Labor Watch said in its report.

The group, a non-profit founded in 2000, has published several investigations of Apple’s operations in China that it said are based on interviews with workers.

Jabil said it conducts 100 annual audits of its operations to ensure health and safe working conditions.

“We are troubled by recent allegations related to excessive overtime, unpaid overtime, and working conditions at our Wuxi, China site,” Jabil said in a statement. “An audit team is en route to Wuxi to thoroughly investigate these claims.”