FoxCoNN is well-known for the inhumane treatment of its workers, leading to mass suicides in 2010. Horrible work conditions, extremely poor pay and suicides are not what Apple wants you to associate with the latest overpriced iPhone.
Thus, Apple was forced to apply pressure to the company and have a 24-hour care center and anti-suicide nets installed. Apparently not being allowed to kill yourself solves the problem of working so hard that you don’t want to live.
This was not the end of the story.
Once the media coverage died down, Foxconn was allowed to return to its cost-cutting practices by paying little for forced 11-hour-shift-working high-school kids (the literal definition of slavery) and violating child-labor laws in the process, as was revealed by a Financial Times report late last year.
Further, it seems that the horrible work practices at Apple factories are not limited to Foxconn, and they continue without repercussion. Another manufacturing complex known as Catcher Technology Co. had its workers stand for up to 10 hours a day on the hot factory floor, exposed to toxic chemicals and often without proper safety equipment while creating iPhone casings for Apple, according to advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW).
Off-duty, they return to debris-strewn dorms bereft of showers or hot water. Many go without washing for days at a time, workers told Bloomberg.
“My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work,” said one of the workers, who makes a little over 4,000 yuan a month (just over $2 an hour) in her first job outside her home province of Henan. She turned to Catcher because her husband’s home-decorating business was struggling.
“I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself.” All workers who spoke with Bloomberg asked not to be identified out of fear of recrimination.
“One has to constantly work without stopping,” said one of the workers, a 25-year-old father of two.
“I asked for the earplugs many times but they didn’t have any. The loud noise of ‘zah-zah’ made my head ache and dizzy,” one of those employees said.
“After a few hours, the gloves swell, and get soft, like they’ve been corroded. The fingers would be exposed,” said one of the workers.CLW reported irritated and peeling skin on workers’ hands.
“In the first few days of work, when I opened the cabinet, the smell made me nauseous,” said one worker,
Despite allegedly hiring its own employees to monitor the process at Catcher factories, Apple unsurprisingly has found no evidence of violations of its standards. Catcher too found no evidence of violations.
“We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made. We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain,” an Apple spokeswoman claimed.
China Labor Watch covertly interviewed 50 workers, noting that there were “major issues” with occupational health and safety, pollution and work schedules at a Catcher facility. Salaries are withheld on the day they quit, an unlawful activity that suggests that the salaries are used to coerce workers into continuing.
“Supplier shall provide and maintain a safe work environment and integrate sound health and safety management practices into its business,” Apple’s supplier code of conduct claims. “Workers must be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Workers shall have the right to refuse unsafe work and to report unhealthy working conditions.”
Catcher violated 14 of these standards, notes China Labor Watch.