Technology, Top News

Apple factory conditions lead to ’90 per cent of workforce taken to hospital’

A REPORT into working conditions at a factory in China that makes iPhones has spoken of exposure to toxic hazards, long hours, poor pay and that environmental pollution is part of the process.

China Labour Watch (CLW) reports, via The Guardian, that the factories of Catcher Technology in Suqian, Jiangsu province were subject to a leak in May 2017, where 90 per cent of the workforce was taken to hospital as a precaution after being exposed to sulphur and phosphorous.

Staff are paid the equivalent of £1.26 per hour and the amount of overtime worked is twice that allowed under the law.

“Apple has recently said they respect Chinese law but Apple has, in reality, been selective about which laws they follow, especially in regards to labour and environmental protection laws. Apple need to uphold their claim of honouring Chinese law,” said Li Qiang, CLW’s executive director.

“Catcher has been risking the health and safety of its workers as well as the local environment.”

A previous CLW report resulted in promises that companies would clean up their act, but this new report says that the production of the iPhone 8’s metal frame and the keyboard case for MacBooks are being produced under horrific working conditions, with contaminated wastewater being returned to the water table.

Both Apple and Catcher say they are in full compliance with the law. Chinese firms can apply for an exemption to the rules regarding overtime.

Apple retorts: “Dozens of Apple employees are permanently on site, monitoring operations, and we’ve conducted 10 in-depth audits over the past five years, including three last year – and the last audit scored 96 out of 100.

“When we heard these latest claims we immediately sent a team of experts to the facilities. They thoroughly investigated and interviewed over 150 workers but found no evidence that Catcher was violating our standards. Our checks also confirmed wastewater is treated appropriately and protective equipment is provided to employees who need it, with detailed records maintained.”

But one testimony in the report states a very different story: “During the manufacturing process, chemical cutting fluids and metal particles would often splash into his eyes.

“Despite this, Catcher does not provide workers with safety goggles. While working at Catcher, the investigator developed symptoms of reduced vision, eye pain and irritation along with a persistent sensation of foreign substances in his eyes. One month after leaving the factory, the investigator’s eyes remained bloodshot.”

Catcher also makes parts for other big companies including Sony, IBM, Dell and HP.

Of those listed, only HP responded, saying: “takes the working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously and has high standards in place with our suppliers. HP vigorously investigates all incidents and credible allegations.”

In the run-up to the launch of the iPhone X, it was reported that interns in the railway industry were being made to build the device as part of their “internship”. Some would argue “internment” is more appropriate. µ

Source : Inquirer

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