Apple designs many of its products in California and has them manufactured by contract manufacturers in China and other countries. Today, Bloomberg reports
that both Apple and Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of iPhone units, have been accused by advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW) of violating Chinese labor law. Using undercover investigators who worked at Foxconn's factory in Zhengzhou, CLW discovered that temporary workers made up half of the workforce last month. Under Chinese labor law, these so-called dispatch workers are not supposed to make up more than 10% of the workforce. Apple agreed with the findings and said that it is working with Foxconn to resolve the issue. It should be noted that Foxconn annually hires a large number of temporary workers to bump up the production of the iPhone during certain times of the year, including the holiday shopping season.
CLW noted that the number of temporary workers last year made up 55% of those who worked in Foxconn's factories and again, 50% last month. But a large number of these workers were student interns who returned to school at the end of last month bringing the number of dispatch workers down to 30%. While that figure is lower, it still violates the law. Besides the overuse of temporary workers, Foxconn also discovered the number of overtime hours worked by employees was "not consistent with company guidelines." The contract manufacturer added that it will keep a close eye on the situation and "will not hesitate to take any additional steps that might be required to meet the high standards we set for our operations."
Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant aims to produce 12,000 iPhones during each shift
The Zhengzhou plant has a goal of producing 12,000 iPhone units per shift, according to CLW. But 2018's iPhone XS
and iPhone XS Max
were more complicated to build than the previous year's iPhone X
. As a result, CLW said that Foxconn needed more assembly workers to build those models. The new 2019 iPhones should be unveiled tomorrow, September 10th. Pre-orders are expected to start on September 13th with the official launch taking place on September 20th.
"We believe everyone in our supply chain should be treated with dignity and respect. To make sure our high standards are being adhered to, we have robust management systems in place beginning with training on workplace rights, on-site worker interviews, anonymous grievance channels, and ongoing audits."-Apple
"Our recent findings on working conditions at Zhengzhou Foxconn highlights several issues which are in violation of Apple's own code of conduct. Apple has the responsibility and capacity to make fundamental improvements to the working conditions along its supply chain, however, Apple is now transferring costs from the trade war through their suppliers to workers and profiting from the exploitation of Chinese workers."-China Labor Watch
The Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max require more factory workers to build than the iPhone X
In 2017, after discovering that Foxconn had illegally had high school students working overtime to manufacture the iPhone X
, Apple sent a team to visit Foxconn to make sure that its partner was adhering to proper standards. The dispatch workers do not receive the same benefits that full-time workers do including sick leave, paid vacations, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, and a pension. In addition, they are not paid by Foxconn; instead, third-party firms pay the salaries of the dispatch workers. After a three-month period, these temporary employees can become full-time factory workers.
Using too many dispatch workers is a serious matter in China as Foxconn's recent response to another CLW investigation proves. Last month, the company axed two executives who were heading up a factory that was turning out Amazon's Echo smart speakers. This plant, located in Hengyang, used too many dispatch and student interns. Some of the latter workers also worked overtime and evenings.