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).


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

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
7 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)
Avatar
7 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)
Avatar
7 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)
Avatar
7 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)
Avatar
7 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)
Avatar
7 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)

Top Stories

Seemingly Unreleased Version of Logic Pro X With Live Loops Appears on Apple's Education Site [Updated]

Sunday March 29, 2020 7:23 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
Update: Apple has replaced the Logic Pro X image with an older version. Original story follows. A seemingly unreleased version of Logic Pro X has appeared on Apple's education site, as spotted by a Reddit user. The image from Apple's education products page shows a 16-inch MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X, but with a familiar interface that looks extremely similar to GarageBand's Live Loops ...

Zoom Updates iOS App to Stop Sending Data to Facebook

Friday March 27, 2020 5:35 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Zoom, a video conferencing app that many people are using at the current time to keep in touch with coworkers while working from home, was sending data to Facebook without disclosing the data sharing to customers. As of today, Zoom has updated its iOS app to remove the SDK that was providing data to Facebook through the Login with Facebook feature, according to Motherboard, the site that...

Apple Suppliers Worried About iPhone Demand, Production Ramp-Up for New iPhones Reportedly Postponed

Friday March 27, 2020 5:56 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Most of the factories in China that supply devices and components to Apple are back to churning out products, but Apple suppliers are said to be worried about how much demand there will be for the current iPhone models and the new iPhones expected in the fall. According to Reuters, a senior official at one of Apple's major supply companies said that orders for quarter ending in March are...

2020 iPad Pro Teardown Provides Closer Look at LiDAR Scanner and Confirms Incremental Update

Saturday March 28, 2020 9:56 am PDT by Hartley Charlton
iFixit today shared a video teardown of the new iPad Pro, which Apple unveiled earlier this month. iFixit found that most of the internals of the 2020 iPad Pro are the same as the 2018 model, confirming that the device is a relatively incremental update. The most notable new feature seen inside the new iPad Pro was the LiDAR scanner, which measures the distance to surrounding objects up...

Apple Watch Series 6 Could Feature Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor, Pulse Oximetry and Sleep Tracking Support

Friday March 27, 2020 11:28 am PDT by Juli Clover
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 set to be released this fall could include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the crown of the device, according to Israeli site The Verifier, which cites "senior sources" who have worked with its staff for a "number of years" as the source of the rumor. It's not clear how the alleged Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be implemented, as the Digital...

Bloomberg: Apple's 5G iPhone Still on Schedule for Fall Launch, But Future Products Could Be Delayed

Monday March 30, 2020 2:40 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple's 5G iPhone is still on track to launch within the company's typical annual fall release schedule, according to a new Bloomberg report on filed on Monday. Signs are that Apple's Chinese-centric manufacturing -- of which Hon Hai is the linchpin -- is slowly getting back on track. The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall, partly because mass...

Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:19 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap,...

Top Stories: Hands-On With 2020 iPad Pro and MacBook Air, iOS and iPadOS 13.4 Released, iPhone 12 Delay?

Saturday March 28, 2020 6:00 am PDT by MacRumors Staff
After last week's flurry of product launches, Apple's new iPad Pro and MacBook Air have started to make their way into consumers' hands, and we've gone hands-on with both of them this week. Apple this week also released iOS and iPadOS 13.4 (as well as macOS, watchOS, and tvOS updates) with a number of new features and improvements. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...

Deals: Huge Refurbished iPhone Sale Discounts iPhone 7, 8, X, XR, and XS (From $120)

Friday March 27, 2020 5:47 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Woot is back today with a big sale on refurbished iPhones, including markdowns on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Woot. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. As with every Woot purchase, those...

Apple Releases ProRes RAW Beta for Windows

Monday March 30, 2020 9:33 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released ProRes RAW for Windows in a beta capacity (via Mark Gurman), with the software designed to allow ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ video files to be watched in compatible applications on Windows machines. According to Apple, the software will let the files be played within several Adobe apps: Adobe After Effects (Beta) Adobe Media Encocder (Beta) Adobe Premiere...