Apple accused of allowing suppliers to break Chinese labor laws

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2020
China's 2014 labor laws are allegedly still being ignored by suppliers, and Apple has reportedly ignored the issue rather than accept extra costs and delays to iPhone launches.

Credit: Foxconn
Credit: Foxconn


Although Apple is among the companies looking to move production away from China, its major suppliers there are allegedly ignoring Chinese laws meant to protect works. Foxconn, Quanta, and Pegatron are all claimed to be doing this with Apple's full knowledge.

According to The Information, China introduced a law in 2014 that said no more than 10% of a factory's workers could be temporary staff. It's because permanent staff typically get better benefits and also legal protections.

However, Apple's major suppliers had been traditionally dependent on hiring great numbers of temporary workers in the run-up to the release of new products. In 2014, Apple reportedly surveyed 362 of its suppliers' factories in China, and almost half were employing more than 10% temporary staff.

The Information says this detail comes from an internal Apple presentation that it has seen, plus four former employees familiar with the issue. Three of those four worked in Apple's supplier responsibility team, intended to ensure legal compliance. The fourth unnamed source was a former Apple manager.

The need for temporary staff

The presentation reportedly detailed how Apple's annual product releases needed the great influx of temporary staff that the factories were using as they ramped up production. These staff are known as "dispatch" because they are employed by agencies that dispatch them to factories.

"Our surprise and delight' business model requires a huge volume of labor for only a short period of time as we ramp products," the 2015 internal Apple presentation said. "We are making it difficult for our suppliers to comply with this law as 10% dispatch is simply not enough to cope with the spikes in labor demand we require during our ramps."

This presentation reportedly did include Apple asking suppliers to submit plans to reduce their temporary staffing levels. However, a later one confirmed that little was achieved.




"Many sites have made no progress in reducing exposure to dispatch despite reduction plans submitted in 2015," said another internal Apple presentation.

Reportedly, figures for 2015 showed that 81 out of 184 of Apple's suppliers' factories exceeded the 10% temporary worker limit. In that year, Apple and its suppliers needed around 1.5 million workers to produce its devices. This makes the company one of the largest employers in China.

That should mean it would be monitored, but possibly because its workforce is spread between many companies, it may not have been. According to The Information, Pegatron told Apple that it didn't believe the laws would be enforced for businesses that were key to economic growth in the region.

Apple reportedly decided to ignore the issue

Consequently, it's alleged that Apple chose to press its suppliers over reducing temporary labor only if local authorities objected. The Information says this detail comes from two ex-Apple employees involved in this decision, and the internal Apple presentations.

Reportedly, the presentation recommended that Apple adopt "a varied approach based on risk and type of supplier," as this would mean a "lower probability of business disruption." Suppliers did make efforts to comply, such as Pegatron managing to get below the 10% level at its Shanghai factory in the first half of 2016, though it rose for the rest of that year.

Figures for 2017 say that 84% of new hires at Pegatron's iPhone plant in Kunshan were these dispatch workers-- so were 91% of new workers at Quanta's Apple Watch factory in Changshu. Similarly, Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant took on 330,000 workers, of whom almost 150,000 were temporary.

It's not known whether Chinese authorities have questioned Apple or its suppliers. However, New York City's China Labor Watch has regularly criticized the company for its working conditions. Hong Kong's China Labor Bulletin has also reported on the situation.

"It's the consequences that push Apple to abide by the rules, not the moral problems," China Labor Bulletin researcher Aidan Chau told The Information. "As long as workers don't go on strike or commit suicide, [Apple] won't think it's a big problem."

Apple has issued a statement in response to The Information, claiming that it is dedicated to the fair treatment of everyone who works for it.

"Workplace rights are human rights and our supplier code of conduct is the strongest in the industry," said Apple in the statement, "and it applies equally to everyone across our supply chain."

"Occasionally factories use temporary labor, and we monitor this closely to ensure compliance with our code," it continued. "Where we find issues we work closely with the supplier on corrective action plans."
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    It’s not really a workable law given the massive swings in labor demand. While I agree with the spirit of the law, some leeway should be given to cater for times where demand peaks.
    GeorgeBMacradarthekat
  • Reply 2 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,165member
    I love the word “reportedly”. It allows journalists to make any wild claim they want without evidence. I always think of Richard Jewel and how that went down.
    flydograzorpitGeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 3 of 21
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,094member
    How irresponsible of AI to publish this poorly researched garbage. This article is based on the logical fallacy that because some third-party factories have more than 10% temporary employees that Apple must be "ignor[ing] the issue." That's like saying that because there are murders committed that police ignore murders.  

    The article also cites facts that directly contradict that Apple is ignoring the issue. For example, Apple recognized that suppliers were exceeding limits, and then took steps to have its suppliers comply.  And indeed "[s]uppliers made effort to comply."  The fact that some didn't does meant that Apple chose to "ignore" the problem.  

    Some of the facts do not support the conclusion because they lack context.  If 84% of new hires at Pegatron were temporary workers, that doesn't mean the 10% limit was exceeded.  The factory may have had 100,000 workers, 95,000 of whom are temporary, and Pegatron may have hired 10 new workers, 9 of whom were temporary. The 10% limit is still met.  

    It's also unclear what the link is between temporary employment and strikes/suicides.  The purpose of the law is so employees "get better benefits, and ... legal protections," not prevent suicides or strikes.  Someone may indeed commit suicide because of poor working conditions, but there's nothing here to support that temporary workers commit suicide at greater rates than full time workers. 

    As this article discusses, suppliers are getting around the 10% limit by classifying employees as subcontractors, rather than as employees. This article fails to mention that, nor does it discuss how this would impact Apple's efforts to enforce the temporary worker limits.

    edited December 2020 foregoneconclusionNotoriousDEVJWSC
  • Reply 4 of 21
    “Chinese labor laws”... LOL. Get real, fools.
    razorpitkillroyNotoriousDEVbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 5 of 21
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,006member
    Long gone are the days of actual journalism and having to get things right the first time.  Back in the newspaper days, the stories better be correct, otherwise, valuable column space will have to be wasted on the next paper run for a retraction.  Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  

    Sounds to me like it's more fake-news in the hopes of influencing the market, or someone with a grudge.  The truth I think lies somewhere in the middle and what's the law and what's reality need to balance.  However, until that is resolved, let's just cherry-pick pieces out of context because sensationalism news is what drives web clicks.

    I'm really disappointed here, and not necessarily with AI, but with modern news sites.  It's pieces like these that has people never believing anything published by anyone anymore and it causes more long-term damage for those short-term clicks.
    flydograzorpitGeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    flydog said:
    How irresponsible of AI to publish this poorly researched garbage. This article is based on the logical fallacy that because some third-party factories have more than 10% temporary employees that Apple must be "ignor[ing] the issue." That's like saying that because there are murders committed that police ignore murders.  

    The article also cites facts that directly contradict that Apple is ignoring the issue. For example, Apple recognized that suppliers were exceeding limits, and then took steps to have its suppliers comply.  And indeed "[s]uppliers made effort to comply."  The fact that some didn't does meant that Apple chose to "ignore" the problem.  

    Some of the facts do not support the conclusion because they lack context.  If 84% of new hires at Pegatron were temporary workers, that doesn't mean the 10% limit was exceeded.  The factory may have had 100,000 workers, 95,000 of whom are temporary, and Pegatron may have hired 10 new workers, 9 of whom were temporary. The 10% limit is still met.  

    It's also unclear what the link is between temporary employment and strikes/suicides.  The purpose of the law is so employees "get better benefits, and ... legal protections," not prevent suicides or strikes.  Someone may indeed commit suicide because of poor working conditions, but there's nothing here to support that temporary workers commit suicide at greater rates than full time workers. 

    As this article discusses, suppliers are getting around the 10% limit by classifying employees as subcontractors, rather than as employees. This article fails to mention that, nor does it discuss how this would impact Apple's efforts to enforce the temporary worker limits.

    Remember AI isn’t really a news site. It’s a blog designed to attract clicks. 
    razorpitlkruppNotoriousDEV
  • Reply 7 of 21
    sflocal said:
    Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  
    It will be interesting to see if AI ever issues a retraction on the "hinge fails after 212 uses" claim regarding the Magsafe Duo Charger. 
    lkrupp
  • Reply 8 of 21
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,094member
    sflocal said:
    Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  
    It will be interesting to see if AI ever issues a retraction on the "hinge fails after 212 uses" claim regarding the Magsafe Duo Charger. 
    I'm tempted to buy one and fold it 300 times just for grins.  The odds of Apple releasing something like this without folding it at least 100,000 times are slim. 
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Rayz2016 said:
    flydog said:
    How irresponsible of AI to publish this poorly researched garbage. This article is based on the logical fallacy that because some third-party factories have more than 10% temporary employees that Apple must be "ignor[ing] the issue." That's like saying that because there are murders committed that police ignore murders.  

    The article also cites facts that directly contradict that Apple is ignoring the issue. For example, Apple recognized that suppliers were exceeding limits, and then took steps to have its suppliers comply.  And indeed "[s]uppliers made effort to comply."  The fact that some didn't does meant that Apple chose to "ignore" the problem.  

    Some of the facts do not support the conclusion because they lack context.  If 84% of new hires at Pegatron were temporary workers, that doesn't mean the 10% limit was exceeded.  The factory may have had 100,000 workers, 95,000 of whom are temporary, and Pegatron may have hired 10 new workers, 9 of whom were temporary. The 10% limit is still met.  

    It's also unclear what the link is between temporary employment and strikes/suicides.  The purpose of the law is so employees "get better benefits, and ... legal protections," not prevent suicides or strikes.  Someone may indeed commit suicide because of poor working conditions, but there's nothing here to support that temporary workers commit suicide at greater rates than full time workers. 

    As this article discusses, suppliers are getting around the 10% limit by classifying employees as subcontractors, rather than as employees. This article fails to mention that, nor does it discuss how this would impact Apple's efforts to enforce the temporary worker limits.

    Remember AI isn’t really a news site. It’s a blog designed to attract clicks. 
    How's that different from most news sites?  Clicks pay salaries.
    lkrupp
  • Reply 10 of 21
    “Chinese labor laws”... LOL. Get real, fools.
    What's the 3-word version of "oxymoron"?
    SpamSandwichJWSC
  • Reply 11 of 21
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member

    More than a month after the election, YouTube to remove misleading fraud claims

    https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/month-election-youtube-remove-misleading-fraud-claims-rcna195
    LOL
  • Reply 12 of 21
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,574member
    “Chinese labor laws”... LOL. Get real, fools.

    What's even more funny, is that those laws were probably enacted due to Apple's constant complaints and transparent labor reporting.
    killroyrazorpitSpamSandwichrandominternetperson
  • Reply 13 of 21
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    lkrupp said:
    I love the word “reportedly”. It allows journalists to make any wild claim they want without evidence. I always think of Richard Jewel and how that went down.
    Journalists and wild claim should not be in the same sentence, but I agree.  ;)
    SpamSandwichJWSC
  • Reply 14 of 21
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member

    sflocal said:
    Long gone are the days of actual journalism and having to get things right the first time.  Back in the newspaper days, the stories better be correct, otherwise, valuable column space will have to be wasted on the next paper run for a retraction.  Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  

    Sounds to me like it's more fake-news in the hopes of influencing the market, or someone with a grudge.  The truth I think lies somewhere in the middle and what's the law and what's reality need to balance.  However, until that is resolved, let's just cherry-pick pieces out of context because sensationalism news is what drives web clicks.

    I'm really disappointed here, and not necessarily with AI, but with modern news sites.  It's pieces like these that has people never believing anything published by anyone anymore and it causes more long-term damage for those short-term clicks.
    But it is even worse than that. One “news site” reports a story. A second “news site” sees it and reports on it, and before you can say WTH? You suddenly find “multiple reports” of said news. AppleNews is pretty much an echo chamber of this kind of reporting.
    sflocal said:
    Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  
    It will be interesting to see if AI ever issues a retraction on the "hinge fails after 212 uses" claim regarding the Magsafe Duo Charger. 
    Not that it matters, I’ll never buy one at that price, but wasn’t it signs of breaking down or something like that? (I find it hard to believe myself.)

    SpamSandwichGeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 15 of 21
    China has lots of great idea laws. Range from very good environmental, labour, civil and human right law believe it or not. 

    But how, when and whom the government applied the law to individual and companies is the problem. Given the court is completely control by the party. It is really up to when you upset the CCP. 

    Given the law is rather strict and how the Apple’s product cycle works. I think it is highly likely that the factory break the law. And I am sure the government knows it, given how tight CCP control of its people. It is also likely that the government officials helped to recruit the temporary workers from school or village. But like I said, no one break any law until CCP said so, no matter you do it or not. 

  • Reply 16 of 21
    razorpit said:

    sflocal said:
    Long gone are the days of actual journalism and having to get things right the first time.  Back in the newspaper days, the stories better be correct, otherwise, valuable column space will have to be wasted on the next paper run for a retraction.  Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  

    Sounds to me like it's more fake-news in the hopes of influencing the market, or someone with a grudge.  The truth I think lies somewhere in the middle and what's the law and what's reality need to balance.  However, until that is resolved, let's just cherry-pick pieces out of context because sensationalism news is what drives web clicks.

    I'm really disappointed here, and not necessarily with AI, but with modern news sites.  It's pieces like these that has people never believing anything published by anyone anymore and it causes more long-term damage for those short-term clicks.
    But it is even worse than that. One “news site” reports a story. A second “news site” sees it and reports on it, and before you can say WTH? You suddenly find “multiple reports” of said news. AppleNews is pretty much an echo chamber of this kind of reporting.
    sflocal said:
    Now, in the digital age, one can publish/insert anything regardless of its authenticity and if found wrong, simply update the article and pretend it never happened, or just hope that people's short attention span will simply move on.  
    It will be interesting to see if AI ever issues a retraction on the "hinge fails after 212 uses" claim regarding the Magsafe Duo Charger. 
    Not that it matters, I’ll never buy one at that price, but wasn’t it signs of breaking down or something like that? (I find it hard to believe myself.)

    Yes, when “news organizations” quote each other as sources minus evidence, the echo chamber effect becomes deafening.
    GeorgeBMacJWSC
  • Reply 17 of 21
    viclauyyc said:
    China has lots of great idea laws. Range from very good environmental, labour, civil and human right law believe it or not. 
    China gets a pretty middling rating for environment here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Performance_Index <--

    Chian gets one of the world's worst ratings for labour laws here: https://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc-global-rights-index-2018-en-final-2.pdf <--

    China rates 126th on human rights laws here: https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index-new although they edged out Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria.

    So I choose not to believe your outrageous claims.

    Dogpersonrandominternetperson
  • Reply 18 of 21
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,536moderator
    Hiring workers from agencies for short term assignments.

    Not exactly the worse labor offense, is it?  Let’s go interview workers folding sheet metal at a toaster oven factory.  See how they’re doing and how much they get paid for full-time gigs.  Let’s also look at safety there too.  Then we can hold Walmart’s and Black&Decker’s feet to the fire.  
    edited December 2020 JWSCGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 19 of 21
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,701member
    Hiring workers from agencies for short term assignments.

    Not exactly the worse labor offense, is it?  Let’s go interview workers folding sheet metal at a toaster oven factory.  See how they’re doing and how much they get paid for full-time gigs.  Let’s also look at safety there too.  Then we can hold Walmart’s and Black&Decker’s feet to the fire.  
    That’s what I was thinking too. 

    Also, shouldn’t China enforce its own laws?
    GeorgeBMacrandominternetperson
  • Reply 20 of 21
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,196member
    MplsP said:
    Hiring workers from agencies for short term assignments.

    Not exactly the worse labor offense, is it?  Let’s go interview workers folding sheet metal at a toaster oven factory.  See how they’re doing and how much they get paid for full-time gigs.  Let’s also look at safety there too.  Then we can hold Walmart’s and Black&Decker’s feet to the fire.  
    That’s what I was thinking too. 

    Also, shouldn’t China enforce its own laws?
    Oh come on.  If China enforced its own laws fairly and uniformly we couldn’t call it the Bandit Regime anymore. 😉
Sign In or Register to comment.