According to a report by watchdog group China Labor Watch, Apple supplier Pegatron has been exploiting workers as Apple pressures manufacturing partners to cut costs amid the company’s decreasing profits.
The fall in profits for Apple, according to China Labor Watch, has also led to the deterioration of working conditions in the company’s suppliers, as evidenced by the watchdog group’s investigation into Pegatron Shanghai over the previous year.
The investigation analyzed more than 2,000 pay stubs of the supplier’s workers, conducted interviews with the employees and investigated the factory where they worked.
According to a press release by China Labor Watch, the group found several details that led to the conclusion that Pegatron was abusing its workers.
The hourly wage for workers in 2015 was equivalent to $1.85, which was slightly increased to $2.00 this year. However, after deductions, the wage was reduced to $1.60 per hour. Pegatron also forces its employees to work overtime hours, with leave requests usually denied during peak seasons.
Of the pay stubs that were studied, 62 percent showed overtime of more than 82 hours each month, with one worker even putting in 109 hours of overtime, three times the legal limit of 36 hours, for a total working time of 293 hours. It was found that due to the base pay being too low, workers rely on doing overtime work to support themselves, as those who do not do so only receive just over $200 per month after deductions.
The workers are also required to come in 10 minutes early, with the 10 minutes being unpaid, and are exposed to possible occupational injuries due to not being provided adequate protection. They are also subjected to a 60-minute security check before entering the factory, which is taken out of their rest time.
China Labor Watch called out Apple and its cash reserves of $233 billion to make improvements on the labor conditions of its suppliers. The group’s executive director Li Qiang stated that Apple is hindering the improvement of labor conditions within the entire smartphone industry.
“If Apple does not take on responsibility commensurate with its status, other companies will not have the ability to make improvements either,” Qiang said in a statement.
According to China Labor Watch, Apple responded to the data last month before the report was published, with the company admitting that there was excessive overtime in some of Pegatron’s departments. However, Apple said that the percentage they know is lower compared with what was found through the investigations.
Apple does not have a financial stake in Pegatron, but China Labor Watch is claiming that it is Apple’s responsibility to improve the working conditions at its supplier.
Apple has been in the spotlight several times over its alleged turning of a blind eye to miserable working conditions in its manufacturing partners. A BBC investigation in late 2014 resulted in a documentary that showed the abuse that employees working for Apple suppliers in China and Indonesia suffer through daily. Factories for iPhones in China were said to have a dismal working environment, while the company’s tin sources in Indonesia are hiring children to work in dangerous situations.
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