Apple and Foxconn Admit Hiring Too Many Temporary Workers in China to Assemble iPhones, Potentially Violating Labor Laws

Apple and manufacturing partner Foxconn have admitted to recruiting too many temporary staff in one of the world's biggest iPhone factories, following a report from a non-profit advocacy group alleging harsh working conditions (via Bloomberg).

foxconn iphone production
China Labor Watch (CLW), which investigates conditions in the country's factories, published its report on Sunday accusing the two companies of breaching several Chinese labor laws, including one barring temporary staff from exceeding 10 percent of the total workforce.

CLW said undercover investigators worked in Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant in China and found that temporary staff, known as "dispatch workers," made up about 50 percent of the workforce in August, when the supply chain is usually ramped up ahead of new ‌iPhone‌ releases. Chinese labor law allows a maximum of 10 percent.

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.

In a statement, Apple said it investigated the percentage of temporary workers among the overall workforce and found it "exceeded our standards," and said it was working with Foxconn to "immediately resolve the issue."

In addition, Apple said it had found that interns at a supplier facility worked overtime at night, something which violating company policy, but that it had corrected the issue. The company said the interns worked overtime voluntarily and were properly compensated.

Despite the admissions, Apple rebutted allegations of lapses in people management and declined to comment on whether the excess amounted to a breach of Chinese labor law.

"We believe everyone in our supply chain should be treated with dignity and respect," Apple said in a statement. "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."

Separately, Foxconn also admitted it had discovered an over-reliance on temporary workers dispatch workers and said it "immediately began a detailed process to ensure that all issues were addressed."

Around 12,000 iPhones are assembled per shift at the Zhengzhou factory, according to CLW's report. However, Apple's 2018 ‌iPhone‌ XS models were said to be more complex to build than 2017's ‌iPhone‌ X and therefore required more workers.

This isn't the first time Apple and Foxconn have come in for criticism over working conditions in Chinese ‌iPhone‌ factories. In 2017, the companies confirmed instances of high school students working overtime to assemble the ‌iPhone‌ X when they shouldn't have been allowed.

Both companies took remedial action over the issue, and Apple sent specialists to the manufacturing plant to work with management to ensure standards were properly followed.

In its latest annual supplier responsibility report, Apple said it conducted 44,000 interviews with supplier employees in 2018 to make sure they were properly trained and knew how to voice concerns. Apple also said it was taking new steps to prevent forced labor.

Apple will hold its annual iPhone-centric event on Tuesday, September 10 at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus, where it is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones alongside an Apple Watch refresh and other announcements.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: China, Foxconn

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Top Rated Comments

itsmemuffins Avatar
62 months ago
Every time apple gets caught out. “Oh sorry guys! We didn’t know. We are going to do better.” Get caught out again. “Oops… is it that bad? We didn’t know. Promise we’ll do better.”

Apple is really starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Lucky for Apple Google leaves an even worse taste.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
johnmed Avatar
62 months ago
Deplorable that one of the biggest corporations in the world still chooses to profit from the hardship of its workforce.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
btrach144 Avatar
62 months ago
Apple just didn't make a small mistake, they made a major one. The limit is 10% and Apple hired 50%. HALF of the workforce is temp workers.

In the USA, temp workers often receive less wage, less benefits, and are treated as second class in the company.

Apple clearly knew what they were doing here. That's crazy that they think they could get away with half their workforce being temps.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sw1tcher Avatar
62 months ago
Just a whiff of homophobia from your use of the "in the closet' phrase?
Are you not familiar with the idiom "skeletons in the closet?"

What else is lurking in Tim's closet = What other skeletons are lurking in Tim's closet
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmemuffins Avatar
62 months ago
I find it fascinating that this site posts all manner of articles about Android, and Xiaomi, and Huawei, and Samsung, etc etc. when it comes to products. “It’s now a tech site, not just an Apple site,” everyone says. But when it comes to Chinese supply chain conditions, there’s a peculiar quiet here unless it’s about Apple/Foxconn.

I guess Apple must be the only one making their phones in China. Learn something every day.
I think it is because Apple and Tim Cook hold themselves as paragons of virtue.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
canesalato Avatar
62 months ago
“voluntarily“. Everyone who has spent a few years living in China (or Japan) knows the meaning of “volunteer overtime work”. What a joke...
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)