Apple supplier Catcher Technology accused of labor violations in China plant

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2015
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,309member
    Love the coordinated attack of piling on negative stories right before Apples event. Disgusting.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    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?
  • Reply 3 of 35
    So, Catcher got caught.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,580member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    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.

  • Reply 6 of 35
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

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

  • Reply 7 of 35
    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!

  • Reply 8 of 35
    normmnormm Posts: 634member
    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.

  • Reply 9 of 35
    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).

  • Reply 10 of 35
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,316member
    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.

  • Reply 11 of 35
    chadbag wrote: »
    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
  • Reply 12 of 35
    If the headline said, Acer supplier, how many people would read it? That's right, none.
    Click bait.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,309member

    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. 

  • Reply 14 of 35
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,309member
    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. 

  • Reply 15 of 35
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,316member
    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)

  • Reply 16 of 35
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member
    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.

  • Reply 17 of 35
    patsupatsu Posts: 430member
    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 ?

  • Reply 18 of 35
    patsu wrote: »

    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.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    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.

  • Reply 20 of 35
    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.
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