Apple suppliers under fire for working conditions in Chinese factories

A documentary has accused Chinese suppliers used by Apple of poorly treating their employees with workers falling asleep on the production line.

A documentary from the BBC has accused Chinese suppliers used by Apple of poorly treating their employees with workers falling asleep during 12 hour shifts and imposing other harsh working conditions.

Undercover reporters for Panorama took jobs at the Pegatron factories and found that workers regularly exceeded 60 hours of work, exceeding company guidelines, and other rules including young workers, ID cards, work meetings and dorm standards were broken.

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One of the undercover reporters had to endure a 16 hour work shift, and reported that employees would regularly work until they fell asleep on the production line during their 12 hour shifts. During the documentary the reporter reveals that “Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn’t want to move. Even if I was hungry I wouldn’t want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress.”

Despite repeated requests for time off the reporter revealed that they had to work for 18 consecutive days, with footage also showing that workers had no option to opt out of night shifts or working whilst standing.

Training standards were also questioned as footage was shown during training ‘exams’ in which answers were chanted out by large groups of workers.

The investigation also looked at further down the supply chain and found that tin mined from illegal mines in Indonesia where children worked in dangerous conditions could be entering the Apple supply chain.

A spokesman for Apple said in response to the investigation told the BBC: “We are aware of no other company doing as much as Apple to ensure fair and safe working conditions.

“We work with suppliers to address shortfalls, and we see continuous and significant improvement, but we know our work is never done.”

The company also said that workers regularly slept during breaks and would look into accusations that workers slept on the production line.

Apple also told the BBC that it was attempting to drive changes in work conditions lower down the supply chain as they promote ethically sourced minerals, and that withdrawing from Indonesian mines altogether would be “the lazy and cowardly path, since it would do nothing to improve the situation”


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