Workers’ Rights ‘Flouted’ at Apple iPhone Factory in China

Photo Credit: Reuters

Photo Credit: Reuters

The new cheaper iPhone that Apple will unveil to a global audience on Tuesday is being produced under illegal and abusive conditions in Chinese factories owned by one of America’s largest manufacturing businesses, investigators have claimed.

Workers are asked to stand for 12-hour shifts with just two 30-minute breaks, six days a week, the non-profit organisation China Labor Watch has claimed. Staff are allegedly working without adequate protective equipment, at risk from chemicals, noise and lasers, for an average of 69 hours a week. Apple has a self-imposed limit of 60 working hours a week.

The problems were uncovered at a plant in Wuxi, near Shanghai, where Apple’s first low-cost handset, dubbed the iPhone 5C, is being produced. The plant is owned by Florida-based Jabil Circuit, a US company with 60 plants in 33 countries including Scotland, and a turnover of $17bn (£11bn) a year. Jabil said it had uncovered problems last month and was taking immediate steps to investigate the allegations. Apple said its experts were “already on site” to look into the claims.

“It is the duty of national governments to regulate the conduct of their companies abroad,” China Labor Watch argued. “The US government also shares in the responsibility for labour abuses committed by US companies manufacturing in China.”

Jabil has 30,000 employees at Wuxi, where cases for the colourful iPhone 5C are being . The majority are hired indirectly through employment agencies, the investigators claim. Local laws set a limit of 30% agency workers in any company’s workforce to prevent the exploitation of staff.

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