Apple Supplier Facilities Still Plagued by Labor Violations

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

Some of Apple’s overseas suppliers are still engaged in multiple types of labor violations, according to a new report from the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an independent organization that monitors companies’ compliance with international labor standards. The FLA’s recent report covered two facilities operated by Apple supplier Quanta that are located in the Chinese cities of Changshu and Shanghai. While the FLA audit of the facilities was conducted last year, the assessment report wasn’t published until August of this year. Apple has been a member of the Washington-based Fair Labor Association since 2012, when a spate of Foxconn employee suicides publicized the poor labor conditions found at some of the factories operated by the Cupertino-based company’s Chinese suppliers.

According to the report, FLA inspectors found multiple code violations at both facilities. Many employees had been charged illegal hiring fees by brokers who recruited the workers for the facilities. FLA inspectors found that both facilities were giving young interns (16 and 17 years of age) overtime in violation of local laws and the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct. Workers were also not being given the required twenty-four consecutive hours of rest per seven-day period. Many workers were also performing work off the clock and were not being appropriately compensated during sick leave.

Both Quanta-operated facilities were found to be lacking appropriate systems to address workers’ grievances and many workers reported being subjected to verbal abuse by their supervisors. Various health and safety problems were also found, including unreliable or incomplete Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), poor air quality, lack of emergency equipment, and improper storage of flammable and toxic substances. The FLA also noted that all of the workers at both facilities were being involuntarily enrolled in the sole official Chinese trade union, the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). However, the FLA pointed out that this was a widespread practice in China’s factories and was not exclusive to Quanta.