Chinese Labor Group Alleges Major Labor Violations at Apple iPhone 5C Supplier Jabil Circuit [Update: Apple to Investigate]

jabil_logoChinese labor rights group China Labor Watch (CLW) has released a report (via The Next Web) bringing forth allegations of major labor abuses at a Chinese factory belonging to Jabil Circuit, a U.S.-based supplier to Apple. Specifically, the workers rights group accuses the company of numerous labor and wage violations, including millions of dollars in unpaid overtime wages, over 100 hours of monthly mandatory overtime, hiring discrimination, and excessive standing work.

Additionally, the report states that the factory is currently producing Apple's lower-cost iPhone 5C as these alleged labor violations have been taking place, a device which should be unveiled next Tuesday.

A new undercover investigation by China Labor Watch (CLW) has revealed a series of ethical and legal labor violations in a factory in Wuxi, China owned by U.S. electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit that is currently producing the soon-to-be-released cheap iPhone for Apple.

Among the infringements uncovered by CLW include millions of dollars in unpaid overtime wages; over 100 hours of monthly mandatory overtime, three times in excess of legal limits; more than 11 hours of standing work every day with no rest outside of 30-minute meal breaks; illegally inadequate pre-work training; hiring discrimination; and more.

Many of the violations raised in CLW’s report also contradict the codes of conduct of both Apple and Jabil Circuit. Despite half a decade of outside investigations and self-reporting on myriad labor abuse throughout its Chinese supply chain, Apple has continually failed to compel supplier factories to conform to Apple’s code of conduct and local labor laws before giving these suppliers Apple production orders.

Last month, the group also alleged poor working conditions at primary Apple supplier Pegatron, stating specific violations such as the unethical holding of worker pay as well as poor living conditions. Apple announced in July that it was forming an academic advisory board for its Supplier Responsibility program, saying that it wanted to ensure “safe and ethical working conditions wherever its products are made.” Apple has also published Supplier Responsibility Progress Reports every year since 2007, tracking the ethical progress of its suppliers in order to bring transparency to its product manufacturing process.

Update: Apple issued this statement to AllThingsD, saying the company takes "any concerns about [its] suppliers very seriously":

Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. We lead the industry with far-reaching and specialized audits, the most transparent reporting and educational programs that enrich the lives of workers who make our products. Apple is the first and only technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association, and we are dedicated to protecting every worker in our supply chain.

As part of our extensive Supplier Responsibility program, Apple has conducted 14 comprehensive audits at Jabil facilities since 2008, including three audits of Jabil Wuxi in the past 36 months. 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. Jabil has a proactive auditing program of their own and they have an excellent track record of meeting Apple’s high standards.

Employees at Jabil are among the 1 million workers in Apple’s supply chain whose working hours we track each week and report on our website. Year to date, Jabil Wuxi has performed above our 92% average for compliance with Apple’s 60-hour per week limit. An audit completed earlier this year did find that some employees had worked more than six consecutive days without a day of rest, and Jabil has been working with our team to better manage overtime.

We are proud of the work we do with our suppliers to improve conditions for workers. Our program goes far beyond monitoring by ensuring corrective actions where they are needed and aggressively enforcing our supplier code of conduct wherever Apple products are made. We believe in transparency and accountability, both for our suppliers and ourselves.

Top Rated Comments

DipDog3 Avatar
103 months ago
unpaid overtime wages, over 100 hours of monthly mandatory overtime, hiring discrimination, and excessive standing work.
Could probably say the same thing about every minimum wage fast food job in the US.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Asia8 Avatar
103 months ago
"Apple has continually failed to compel supplier factories to conform to Apple’s code of conduct and local labor laws before giving these suppliers Apple production orders"

I just don't see how people can try and make it seem like it's Apple's fault... Surely this is the fault of the factory and the responsibility of the contracted company and the local government to rectify this.

Certainly Apple can try and make a show that they're trying to do the right thing, but trying to blame it on Apple... That Apple is failing... It seems wrong.

I can blame Apple for lots, but not really for this one.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheGraphicMac Avatar
103 months ago
Ever see the lines when Foxconn or one of the other large manufacturers in China puts the word out that they're hiring? Thousands upon thousands of people stand in line for days to get one of these horrible jobs. Because it's still better than the alternative.

If they don't like the working conditions, they should stop working. Foxconn would be forced to raise prices to Apple, and Apple to us. Problem solved. But it's not gonna happen, because ultimately somebody is willing to work under these conditions, some company is willing to let them, and we're almost all NOT willing to pay more for our gadgets.

What bothers me is that this storyline has the word Apple in it simply to gain page views. All the sites that report on this like to blame Apple, or at least slant the article to make it appear that Apple actually has some control over the problem. These companies make things for Samsung, Dell, Moto, HP, and virtually every other high-tech hardware company - yet you never see their names in the article.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Thunderhawks Avatar
103 months ago
I'm not saying Apple can't intervene, however this article writes as if it's Apples fault. Is not the point of contracting out work so that you have to do less? It seems lately that Apple gets targeted as if they were there running the factories themselves.
Of course Apple will intervene as they do not want bad press like that.

Some of the posters here need to take a business 101 class in a hurry.

Money drives everything and people who say they'd pay more if xyz happened are full of it. Nobody does.

As for contract work controls when an audit is imminent everybody knows and they put everything in the best shape possible.

Once the auditors leave it's business as usual.

Putting Western morals and viewpoints onto the Chinese way of doing business
doesn't work.

The article is trying to get Apple to do something that the Chinese government should take care of.

If they were making stuff for Walmart it would be the same and why don't they ever name the other brands and products made in the same factories?

Apple's name just pulls best!
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
firedept Avatar
103 months ago
Why am I not surprised by another story of labour irregularities by a Chinese supplier doing work for Apple. Apple should be hiring people to oversee these companies so they stay in compliance with Apple's conduct demands.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
khollister Avatar
103 months ago
Let's say you go to pick up dry cleaning once a week and as you enter a bell rings and the owner's dog barks. The owner then kicks the dog. How many time will you go there before looking for a new dry cleaner?

Using your example, you should require your dry cleaner to allow you to camp out in his store to monitor his behavior or you should at least make frequent unannounced visits to inspect his operation. This is the same standard you are apparently expecting Apple to take. I'm sure if Apple witnessed something (or had credible complaints) they would take action, but to expect a customer to take responsibility for anything the vendor does is completely ridiculous.

In fact, by those standards, you should immediately refuse to purchase any more Apple products since customers are responsible for the actions of their vendors.

While these watchdog groups likely have good intentions, there is a huge political element here, and they are not above using Apple (as in knowingly painting them as negligent, regardless of the facts) to further their goals. They know their ability to directly coerce the Chinese authorities is minimal due to the political & cultural environment, so they aim to use companies like Apple (with the potential threat of pulling production) to do what the Chinese government will not. I appreciate the original intent of improving worker conditions, but the means being used is, itself, unethical. Apple probably does more than any other large corporation in these areas, yet these groups and the press routinely rewards that by blaming them even more.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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