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Apple supplier Catcher Technology accused of labor violations in China plant

post #1 of 36
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Workers at a Catcher-owned facility in Suqian, China are subjected to discriminatory hiring policies, forced to handle toxic materials without proper protective gear, and made to work excessive overtime to manufacture parts for Apple's next-generation iPad Air, according to a scathing undercover report released Thursday by China Labor Watch and Green America.




The laundry list of complaints -- 22 in all -- touches nearly every area of factory operations, from environmental and occupational safety to wages and living conditions. Thursday's report was first noted by the New York Times.

Catcher is accused of discriminating against potential hires by capping its recruiting age limit at 46 and refusing to hire people with tattoos -- men are forced to remove their shirts to prove that they have no such body modifications. The firm also forces workers to lie on documentation saying that they have received safety training, even though no training, or inadequate training, was given.

Among the more serious violations are allegations that Catcher locks fire exits and windows, even in areas where flammable magnesium-alloy dust wafts through the air and employees openly smoke cigarettes. Similar practices were responsible for the death of more than 100 people in a Bangladesh garment factory fire in 2012.
"Apple has a long way to go to ensure workers are laboring under safe and fair conditions." -- report
Catcher has also been charged with pouring industrial waste directly into local sewers and rivers, the same accusations leveled at Foxconn-owned factories near Shanghai last year.

The two labor rights groups say that Catcher, which also works for Apple rivals including Samsung, not only violated Apple's supplier code of conduct, but also ran afoul of Chinese labor laws and the Taiwan-based manufacturer's own internal policies. It is the second time in two years that egregious violations have been found at the Suqian plant, and several problems identified last year remain.

Speaking to the Times, an Apple spokesperson said that the company had "found some concrete areas for improvement in Catcher's operations" during its most recent audit in May, and "worked with Catcher to develop a corrective action plan."
post #2 of 36
Love the coordinated attack of piling on negative stories right before Apples event. Disgusting.
post #3 of 36
Guess China Labor Watch has an utter inability to take these issues to, oh, I don't know...CHINA to have THEM look into the issues?

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post #4 of 36
So, Catcher got caught.

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #5 of 36
While both of your comments have merit, the fact remains that if the allegations are accurate, the violations are so egregious that the factory deserves to be closed.

But maybe if there's enough of these kinds of violations of decent corporate behavior on the part of these factories, Apple and other companies will eventually give consideration to returning more manufacturing to Europe, Japan and the Americas.

I've always believed that companies should manufacture where their markets are so that consumers who purchase the products also have the benefits that jobs would bring to their region or country. The inefficiency of manufacturing in multiple places would be made up for by the efficiency of having manufacturing close to market.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

While both of your comments have merit, the fact remains that if the allegations are accurate, the violations are so egregious that the factory deserves to be closed.

But maybe if there's enough of these kinds of violations of decent corporate behavior on the part of these factories, Apple and other companies will eventually give consideration to returning more manufacturing to Europe, Japan and the Americas.

I've always believed that companies should manufacture where their markets are so that consumers who purchase the products also have the benefits that jobs would bring to their region or country. The inefficiency of manufacturing in multiple places would be made up for by the efficiency of having manufacturing close to market.

While I would love that idea to happen, there is no way companies are going to bring manufacturing back to the US for the foreseeable future. The time and cost is too great.

post #7 of 36

Hey- studies show that people with tattoos are more likely to leak parts online.  Gotta follow through on that doubling down!

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post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Guess China Labor Watch has an utter inability to take these issues to, oh, I don't know...CHINA to have THEM look into the issues?


it is actually difficult. it is easier to raise the problem in the home country and have the company in contract pressure the Chinese factory to make changes. just like China has environmental laws that their own factories and government overlook because they are making money. China really does not care if they get a bad rep on most things-- case in point, everyone outside of China knows about their hazardous smog problem but the news media in China are not allowed to comment on it due to Chinese law.

it is bizarrely more beneficial to contact outside companies who are in contract with Chinese factories to make a change. i agree with you 100% that is should be the way you mentioned, but alas!

post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

I've always believed that companies should manufacture where their markets are so that consumers who purchase the products also have the benefits that jobs would bring to their region or country. The inefficiency of manufacturing in multiple places would be made up for by the efficiency of having manufacturing close to market.

 

The high-value jobs resulting from Apple products involve content production (apps and media) and use (new ways to work and play).  The number of manufacturing jobs is tiny in comparison, and they pay much less.  It would certainly be a net negative in job creation if manufacturing was made less efficient, making the products more expensive.

post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirLance99 View Post
 

While I would love that idea to happen, there is no way companies are going to bring manufacturing back to the US for the foreseeable future. The time and cost is too great.


But they should- Germany is, and has, done well due to manufacturing. Nations that do not manufacture or engineer things usually have a rough go at worst, and mediocre economy (unless they have oil, of course).

post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post
 

Hey- studies show that people with tattoos are more likely to leak parts online.  Gotta follow through on that doubling down!

 

It is a cultural thing.  In Japan, tattooed people are highly discriminated against as traditionally, tattoos were the provenance of the Yakuza organized crime gangs and similar gang and criminal oriented people.  I wouldn't be surprised if China had similar cultural connotations for tattoos -- that tattoos are the provenance of the various triads and other gangs.

post #12 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post

It is a cultural thing.  In Japan, tattooed people are highly discriminated against as traditionally, tattoos were the provenance of the Yakuza organized crime gangs and similar gang and criminal oriented people.  I wouldn't be surprised if China had similar cultural connotations for tattoos -- that tattoos are the provenance of the various triads and other gangs.

Yeah, if I wore a lot of tattoos, I'd think twice before visiting Japan.

ubcyTUo.jpg

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post #13 of 36
If the headline said, Acer supplier, how many people would read it? That's right, none.
Click bait.
post #14 of 36

Headline: "Apple supplier Catcher Technology..."

 

Near the end of the article: "The two labor rights groups say that Catcher, which also works for Apple rivals including Samsung,...

 

What a filthy rag of  a publication, and what a poor excuse for journalism. I guess there's an unwritten rule that "Apple" needs to be the first word in any negative headline related to technology, objectivity and honest journalism be damned. Also, did we forget that Apple has asked these labor groups to audit factories? These violations are the fault of many (starting with the Chinese government, then the suppliers themselves who are breaking Apple's rules), but Apple is not the one to blame here. 

post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

 

It is a cultural thing.  In Japan, tattooed people are highly discriminated against as traditionally, tattoos were the provenance of the Yakuza organized crime gangs and similar gang and criminal oriented people.  I wouldn't be surprised if China had similar cultural connotations for tattoos -- that tattoos are the provenance of the various triads and other gangs.

 

And this is the kind of context missing from these kinds of articles. Tatoos over there do not mean what they do in other countries, so there's reasons other than random discrimination for this issue. 

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
 

 

And this is the kind of context missing from these kinds of articles. Tatoos over there do not mean what they do in other countries, so there's reasons other than random discrimination for this issue. 

 

Here is a small amount of info on tattoos in Japan and, as I said, I would bet there are similar things with them in China:  http://listverse.com/2013/10/23/10-odd-facts-about-the-yakuza/   (one of the points listed -- all are interesting)

post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

 

It is a cultural thing.  In Japan, tattooed people are highly discriminated against as traditionally, tattoos were the provenance of the Yakuza organized crime gangs and similar gang and criminal oriented people.  I wouldn't be surprised if China had similar cultural connotations for tattoos -- that tattoos are the provenance of the various triads and other gangs.


That's correct. I would also implement such measure if I were to open another company in China. 

A friend had to fire the entire team of workers and managers because they gang up together to make the book after a year+.

Another friend had his money stolen by his Chinese partner overnight (and ran away).

Yet another had his entire source code stolen by a staff. The latter set up a competing company taking some of my friend's customers with him.

You have to find the right people carefully at the very beginning. Keep as much bad factors out as possible at the beginning and during day-to-day operation. That's how China roll.

 

For a factory operation, make sure the workforce is not infiltrated by gangs, or the entire stock of parts will be gone, plus more people problems.


Edited by patsu - 9/4/14 at 9:19am
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
 

 

And this is the kind of context missing from these kinds of articles. Tatoos over there do not mean what they do in other countries, so there's reasons other than random discrimination for this issue. 

 

The value chain and relationships presented in this report is messed up.

 

This statement while not untrue is missing the point completely:

"Apple has a long way to go to ensure workers are laboring under safe and fair conditions."

 

It should be:

"*We have* a long way to go to ensure workers are laboring under safe and fair conditions."

 
... where We = Chinese government, China Labor Watch (the author's organization), Green America, Catcher Technologies and all their customers.
 
Accusing mainly and only Apple seems like prejudice when in fact, all of them -- including the author when he's on the premise -- are responsible.
 
It looks like China Labor Watch and Green America only want to write a paper report and let someone else shoulder the responsibility. And if they keep pointing finger only at Apple -- the only organization that's interested in realizing a green future for the industry -- they risk discrediting their collective work. CLW and Greem America should also blame themselves and the Chinese government for being ineffective. Catcher has contracts with all the major cellphone companies including Motorola, Samsung, HTC, etc. after all.

 

It is difficult to say what happened. e.g., When Apple pioneer metal casing on smartphones, Catcher may very well be under better control by Apple. But when Catcher take up more contracts from Samsung (5S !), HTC, and Motorola to make even more metal casing at lower cost and higher volume, the management have to find their margin from somewhere. Apple's policies ensure there's some leeway for the management to exploit and they may have gone for it.

As for pouring waste into river, it happens in other industries in China. It's something the government need to tighten. They have gone for drugs and pornograpy heavily and relatively successfully in recent months. Why not hunt down companies that pollute the environment at the same time ? The Chinese government is richer and more powerful than Apple right ? They built a brand new, fully functional and staffed hospital in 2 weeks from ground up when SARS was threatening Asia, and yet they can't get one Catcher to not pollute the river ?


Edited by patsu - 9/4/14 at 10:08am
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by patsu View Post


That's correct. I would also implement such measure if I were to open another company in China. 
A friend had to fire the entire team of workers and managers because they gang up together to make the book after a year+.
Another friend had his money stolen by his Chinese partner overnight (and ran away).
Yet another had his entire source code stolen by a staff. The latter set up a competing company taking some of my friend's customers with him.
You have to find the right people carefully at the very beginning. Keep as much bad factors out as possible at the beginning and during day-to-day operation. That's how China roll.

I don't think foreigners have an appreciation for the depth of the deep corruption in China. Personally, I believe they should be kicked out of the WTO.

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post #20 of 36
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
Workers at a Catcher-owned facility in Suqian, China are subjected to discriminatory hiring policies, forced to handle toxic materials without proper protective gear, and made to work excessive overtime to manufacture parts

 

Sorry, is this supposed to be news? It’s China. We know this. That’s how the entire country behaves. Humans are cattle to the elite. Anyone who thinks this is Apple’s fault needs to be punished.

 
"Apple has a long way to go to ensure workers are laboring under safe and fair conditions." -- report

 

Whoever wrote this needs to be fired, imprisoned, and sued.

 

Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
Love the coordinated attack of piling on negative stories right before Apples event. Disgusting.

 

Why can’t we get the government to force the media to... ah, wait, that’s probably a bad idea.

 

Originally Posted by revenant View Post
it is easier to raise the problem in the home country and have the company in contract pressure the Chinese factory to make changes.

 

This is why we need to put the entirety of the country out of work. Take all manufacturing out of China and then the government can see how they like dealing with 500,000,000 people out of work.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #21 of 36
Like Foxconn, Catcher Technology is a Taiwan-owned company. In fact, maintaining mass production facilities in Taiwan as well as China.

Understand the roots of China Labor Watch go back to founding to oppose return of Hong Kong to China. Nowadays their funding comes through fronts in the Netherlands. Offering short holidays to MI6-types delivering paychecks.

OTOH, efficiencies of automation can overcome offshoring. Labor costs, for example, in most Apple products are less than 4% of total cost of production.

In the past year, Ford moved Fusion production back to the Midwest and GM is moving Caddy production and/or engine production to Tennessee - both from Mexico to the US.
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


I don't think foreigners have an appreciation for the depth of the deep corruption in China. Personally, I believe they should be kicked out of the WTO.


Yes. When my friend's source code got stolen, he went to the police. 

The guy who stole the source code yelled at him, "Do you think only you big foreign companies have relationships ?"

Turns out that the entire police station is friends with him. The law is not well enforced there. So the police officer simply told my friend off.

 

Same for the guy who ran away with my other friend's money (It's millions !).
He paid the police in Dong Guan, and continue to party there.

There's nothing you can do.

 

You could also get beaten on the streets for the proper work you carry out in the office.

Basically, CLW -- if they operate out of China -- is subjected to these corruptions and madness too.

 

It may be better now, but the spectrum of right-vs-wrong is very wide.

post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadbag View Post
 

 

It is a cultural thing.  In Japan, tattooed people are highly discriminated against as traditionally, tattoos were the provenance of the Yakuza organized crime gangs and similar gang and criminal oriented people.  I wouldn't be surprised if China had similar cultural connotations for tattoos -- that tattoos are the provenance of the various triads and other gangs.

Didn't know that.  Catcher should offer a couple scholarships- but only for people who are tattooed.

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post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by patsu View Post


Yes. When my friend's source code got stolen, he went to the police. 
The guy who stole the source code yelled at him, "Do you think only you big foreign companies have relationships ?"
Turns out that the entire police station is friends with him. The law is not well enforced there. So the police officer simply told my friend off.

Same for the guy who ran away with my other friend's money (It's millions !).

He paid the police in Dong Guan, and continue to party there.
There's nothing you can do.

You could also get beaten on the streets for the proper work you carry out in the office.
Basically, CLW -- if they operate out of China -- is subjected to these corruptions and madness too.


It may be better now, but the spectrum of right-vs-wrong is very wide.

I would consider opening a business in Hong Kong, but never in the Chinese mainland unless I had close ties inside their government.

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post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post
 

Didn't know that.  Catcher should offer a couple scholarships- but only for people who are tattooed.

 

It's not only in China:
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-09-04/news/41765769_1_tattoos-14-organisations-managers

 

Takes time to change people.

post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Didn't know that.  Catcher should offer a couple scholarships- but only for people who are tattooed.

LOL

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post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirLance99 View Post
 

While I would love that idea to happen, there is no way companies are going to bring manufacturing back to the US for the foreseeable future. The time and cost is too great.

 

Then why is Apple doing it?

 

http://www.cnet.com/news/apple-to-build-made-in-the-usa-manufacturing-plant-in-arizona/

 

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/05/apple-creates-us-jobs-renewable-energy

post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


I would consider opening a business in Hong Kong, but never in the Chinese mainland unless I had close ties inside their government.


Yeah, one of them was (still is) doing a startup there (His market is in China).

 

The other was a country manager of a multi-national company. He's appointed to go there by higher ups.

 

They all have relationships.


Edited by patsu - 9/4/14 at 9:46am
post #29 of 36

Some of Catcher's other clients, but let's pin the blame squarely on Apple 5 days before their event. Nice job AI.

 

Acer

BlackBerry

Dell

Hewlett-Packard

HTC Corp

Motorola Mobility / aka Google

Nokia

Samsung

Sony

post #30 of 36

I live in Hong Kong. I used to live in Japan, and mainland China before that. I speak mandarin.

 

- Japan and China cannot be equated on any basis, except that they're both Asian, have diets that consist mainly of rice, and use the same written characters. There is no widespread cultural bias against tattoos in China, this is nothing more than a measure designed to weed out people they think might cause trouble. It's not entirely different from Walmart hypothetically choosing not to hire people who show up to the interview in a red shirt for fear that they might be Bloods.

 

- When Apple products are made in a factory, it's almost always nothing *but* Apple products being made in that factory, especially when iOS devices are in question. As has been written on AI a hundred times, contract manufacturers often dedicate plants entirely to Apple due to the absurdly large volumes. If you had read the report,  you would see that this is exactly the case in this factory. 

 

- The only way these manufacturers will change their tactics is if their clients demand it. This industry is vital to the Chinese economy; Apple's new iPhone alone is expected add 1% to China's exports through the remainder of this year. The government is slowly getting its act together, but companies like Apple will have to be the catalyst for near-term change - nobody else has the clout to demand fixes.

post #31 of 36
Talk about slanted journalism and executing on a personal vendetta against Apple. Does the NYT expect that Apple is going to personally police every one of their suppliers at every level on a daily basis to ensure that they are complying with Apple's elevated supplier responsibility rules that the suppliers are choosing to violate? These suppliers are owned and run by organizations that are responsible for the safety and welfare of their workforce. These suppliers are operated under rules and regulations dictated by governments at many levels. Implying that Apple must continuously impose, enforce, and police standards that are being openly ignored by the whole chain of irresponsible people and organizations who have less than one tenth the concern about worker safety that Apple demonstrates on a consistent basis is rediculous. Sorry NYT, Apple can't save the world from itself and setting it up as the universal fall guy for everyone else's shortcomings is a baseless attack. Start drilling down ten levels in NYT's own supply chain and I'll bet you'll find plenty of dirt, which matches up nicely with their current publishing strategy.
post #32 of 36
To send an email to Brian X Chen, Google him for his email address at the Times.
post #33 of 36

Do you really want to believe in China Labor Watch?  I think this organization itself is dirty.  How does it work?  Most posters think China is corrupt.  CLW has many Chinese in it.  Why do they do things that are un-Chinese?  How does it get funded?  I feel there is a lot of politics behind.  They could be from Apple competitors and/or anti-China people. Therefore, I don't think CLW actually cared for the workers.  First of all, CLW must use Apple to get the most money.  This is kind insane.  

post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Love the coordinated attack of piling on negative stories right before Apples event. Disgusting.

 

Yeah, it's ridiculous. Apple is cleaner on overseas labor in Asia than any other American company, AFAIK.

post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazerCT View Post
 

Some of Catcher's other clients, but let's pin the blame squarely on Apple 5 days before their event. Nice job AI.

 

Acer

BlackBerry

Dell

Hewlett-Packard

HTC Corp

Motorola Mobility / aka Google

Nokia

Samsung

Sony

Exactly. Not a single mention anywhere of these other companies. I don't see why it is anyone's job except Catcher to make sure they follow rules.

post #36 of 36
A small delivery group close to the border in China that has business relations with a bigger delivery company that once deliver wall paint with the gray shade color that resembles the same shade of gray Apple uses on MacBook Pros has been accused of labors violations in China.
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