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Apple Faces New China Worker Abuse Claims 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-we-go-again dept.
AmiMoJo writes "Technology giant Apple is facing fresh allegations of worker rights violations at Chinese factories of one of its suppliers, the Pegatron Group. China Labor Watch has alleged that three factories of Pegatron violate a 'great number of international and Chinese laws and standards.' These include underage labour, contract violations and excessive working hours. Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, claimed that 'our investigations have shown that labour conditions at Pegatron factories are even worse than those at Foxconn factories.' The campaign group said that it had found that average weekly working hours in the three factories investigated by it were approximately 66 hours, 67 hours, and 69 hours, respectively."
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Apple Faces New China Worker Abuse Claims

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:12PM (#44415593)

    Are you sure it was a Chinese company? It could be mine...

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:33PM (#44415817)

      The company (Pegatron) isn't Chinese. They're Taiwanese. The factories, however, are in China.

      Pegatron used to be the manufacturing division of ASUS. They spun them off, but still do a lot of manufacturing for ASUS and just about everybody else. This isn't really an Apple problem: everybody uses these companies for manufacturing, it's an industry-wide problem.

      • >This isn't really an Apple problem: everybody uses these companies for manufacturing, it's an industry-wide problem.

        Isn't this always the case? Apple is a well-known and envied brand, so they get the blame for something that's a problem with the entire industry.

        It does at least bring attention to the problem, but doing so honestly would be a lot better.

        Disclosure: I own an iPod Touch, but my phone and multiple tablets are Android devices. Not an Apple Fanboi.
        • by xaxa (988988) on Monday July 29, 2013 @04:26PM (#44416519)

          >This isn't really an Apple problem: everybody uses these companies for manufacturing, it's an industry-wide problem.

          Isn't this always the case? Apple is a well-known and envied brand, so they get the blame for something that's a problem with the entire industry.

          But Apple's image and brand is of a better, more responsible company -- that's part of the justification for the higher price. "Everyone else does it" might be true, but the statement was "we thought you were better".

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by BasilBrush (643681)

            But Apple's image and brand is of a better, more responsible company -- that's part of the justification for the higher price. "Everyone else does it" might be true, but the statement was "we thought you were better".

            Apple ARE better.
            http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/accountability.html [apple.com]

            • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

              But Apple's image and brand is of a better, more responsible company -- that's part of the justification for the higher price. "Everyone else does it" might be true, but the statement was "we thought you were better"

              Apple ARE better.
              http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/accountability.html [apple.com] [apple.com]

              If Apple is that better they would STOP letting their contractor abusing the workers a long time ago

              Back in 2010-2011, another contractor, Wintek, caused deaths and injuries to several of its workers due to n-hexane exposure - including one engineer who dropped dead while working

              http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/technology/23apple.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

              Anyone can come up with any kind of policy, and what Apple is doing is merely giving lip service to their "policy"

              Especially after the death and injuri

              • Anyone can come up with any kind of policy, and what Apple is doing is merely giving lip service to their "policy"

                Have you been following the news? Apple stopped doing business with two suppliers. They forced the companies using child labor to pay for those kids to go to school and pay them wages while they went. They forced several companies to pay all the overtime they were trying to bilk employees out of. Any they did all this for years and openly published their audits before anyone paid any attention.

                Who else has done anything? Who do you buy your computer from that is doing better? You are part of the problem Mr.

              • Accidents happen. For what happens when companies don't care, take Samsung as an example, where hundreds were injured through chemicals and the company refuses to pay up.

                But according to you, Apple should have some magic touch that enables it to prevent any accidents in the workplace whatsoever.
              • Anyone can come up with any kind of policy, and what Apple is doing is merely giving lip service to their "policy"

                Bullshit. If anyone was "giving lip service" to the policy, WinTek was. Apple does indeed have independent inspectors visiting the plants to find violations of it's policy. And where those are found the are corrected. But of course companies can sometimes hide bad practice for a while.

                Bad things happen. And not just in China. Industrial illnesses are far from rare in America itself.

              • If Apple is that better they would STOP letting their contractor abusing the workers a long time ago

                Back in 2010-2011, another contractor, Wintek, caused deaths and injuries to several of its workers due to n-hexane exposure - including one engineer who dropped dead while working

                http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/technology/23apple.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

                Anyone can come up with any kind of policy, and what Apple is doing is merely giving lip service to their "policy"

                Especially after the death and injuries that had occurred in Wintek last time, Apple ought to have wised up and ensure that their so-called "policy" be strictly followed

                First of all, do you know what hard-hitting journalistic work the NYT had to do to find out about that incident? They had to look into Apple's 2011 report. That's the source they give, and they obviously didn't know about it before. Wintek used n-hexane for all products for all customers - but only apple reported the incident, and only Apple required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines.

                And talking about deaths: Samsung has bee

        • Apple is a well-known and envied brand

          Isn't it interesting how evildoers such as Microsoft and Apple love to play the "envy" card? Sorry, what you may mistake for envy is actually disgust.

    • In the 3 years I worked in China, I have visited literally hundreds of factories. Not only that, we actually used Foxconn to produce some of our products. Of all the factories I saw, Foxconn by far had the best work conditions. From boiling lead solder to paintiing in enclosed rooms, I saw some appalling conditions pretty much at every factory EXCEPT Foxconn. If you really care about this issue apple is the last place you should look. Don't buy anything made in China.

  • not enough to stop buying ipods and whatever other trendy shit is important to social status right now

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, iPods are *really* trendy these days. So are fax machines!

      That aside, everyone knows that "being trendy" is the only reason that people would buy Apple products. It doesn't have anything to do with preferring the way a product works, what an OS does, the design of the hardware, or actually being okay with the dreaded Walled Garden (Bzzzzzzt! Not allowed for Orthodox Slashdot Readers and Posters).

      Nope, it's just to look like a hipster.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        yep only reason

  • In China, workers don't need unions, they just need to be an Apple supplier, and get China Labor Watch to give them a poor report on workplace conditions. Then, the world will force Apple to force the supplier to address the issues (or hide them better).

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      In China, workers don't need unions, they just need to be an Apple supplier, and get China Labor Watch to give them a poor report on workplace conditions. Then, the world will force Apple to force the supplier to address the issues (or hide them better).

      And then Apple will then take the world on and declare themselves to be the police on Chinese labor, and be able to shut down any factory that is not up to Apple's standards.

      Apple will walk into whatever factory Samsung uses, conduct a surprise audit, and de

  • Pegatron (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No. Apple does not. A supplier that Apple uses, Pegatron, does.

    I know Apple generates more page views than Pegatron but can we please try for a vague hint of accuracy in the article summaries.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Came to see comments about EA developers flooding into facility to work only sixty hours a week!

  • by hambone142 (2551854) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:19PM (#44415673)
    Several other computer manufacturers use Foxconn and Pegatron. H.P. is one of them for example. We get the behavior we measure. Cost cutting is the constant mantra of U.S. corporate management. We turn a blind eye to such practices. I won't even get in to the pollution issue they cause in China.
    • You know the answer to that... Page views. Publicity.
    • Page hits.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:47PM (#44415979) Journal

      Two reasons.

      First, customer base. HP is a rather boring company, and most of their customers are medium and large businesses bulk-purchasing hardware. They couldn't care less about some workers in China, but they do care about the pricing. Apple, OTOH, has more individual customers, and in particular a large number of that type of vegan "fair trade" coffee drinking hipster. This is precisely the kind of audience that can be efficiently targeted with emotional appeal, and would respond to it by pushing back onto the company.

      Second, finances. Apple is widely known as a wildly successful technological company. With the kinds of profits that they report every quarter, they can't say that their margins are too low, or something along those lines.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      no one buys HP though

  • So Apple has only one worker in all of China?

    If not, then surely it should be "Chinese worker abuse claims".

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:31PM (#44415785) Homepage Journal

    These are the actions of the Pegatron Group, a separate company from Apple that like FoxConn is a contractor. So why is it claimed that Apple that is mistreating workers? And why the exclusive focus on Apple when other high profile tech companies, including direct competitors who use these same companies with workers receiving the same treatment at those plants?

    I suppose the most likely reason is because Apple is seen as the lead brand in consumer technology, and by slamming Apple in the press, they prompt Apple into action, but it also seems that by focusing on Apple, they unfairly saddle Apple with the cost of fixing this than the industry as a whole.

    • by dwightk (415372) on Monday July 29, 2013 @03:40PM (#44415885) Homepage Journal

      What is the difference in projected traffic volume for an article with the headline
      "Pegatron faces China worker abuse claim"

      vs.

      "Apple faces new China worker abuse claim"

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      So why is it claimed that Apple that is mistreating workers?

      Stop it. Do you really think Apple is invested in ensuring the quality of life of the people? Besides, they made the commitment FTFA: "Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. "

      If Apple was serious about getting these conditions improved, they would be proactive about, not reactive. They only do something about it when they get bad press about it and then they basically hire a 3rd party to say "Oh, everything is OK. It's just a handful of troublemakers j

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gnasher719 (869701)

        If Apple was serious about getting these conditions improved, they would be proactive about, not reactive. They only do something about it when they get bad press about it and then they basically hire a 3rd party to say "Oh, everything is OK. It's just a handful of troublemakers jumping off the building to make Apple look bad"

        From what I hear, they are quite proactive actually. They just didn't tell the world until accusation, including some completely made up accusations, kept flying at them.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Californians want to have their cake and eat it too. And the worst part is, this culture of absolute idealism that much of California embodies is spreading.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Oh, and before anybody tells me it's a New York-based "watchdog" group, Apple's based in California, and it's Californians who're most up in arms about these kinds of things.

      • by hondo77 (324058)

        Californians get to have their cake and eat it too.

        Fixed that for you. Stay away from this place. Earthquakes, wildfires, and mudslides every day. Gays always trying to marry you. Beautiful women forced to take actressing jobs. Really, you don't want to come here.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Two reasons.

      Apple claims to be making an effort to prevent this kind of abuse, yet here is solid evidence that they are either failing to do so or lying.

      Apple pay these companies to do work for them. Rather than doing it themselves they employ others. Just because they are not on Apple's payroll directly does not mean Apple bares some responsibility for their actions.

      • by dwightk (415372)

        ...yet here is "solid" "evidence" that they are either failing to do so or lying.

        FTFY

    • by Maritz (1829006)
      Speaking as someone who isn't much of an Apple fan (I find their marketing pretty smug on the whole) I agree entirely. It's a shame Apple has to be mentioned in this context for anyone to give a shit.
  • The country I live in (USA, you may have heard of it) once counted abundant, low cost labor as a comparative economic advantage. At that time, we exploited this advantage, which resulted in a sustained economic boom, accompanied by exploding output, and eventually the creation of a middle class. Our middle class then organized themselves and enforced much better working conditions. This eliminated our labor cost advantage, but we were able to make do with productivity improvements and a shift to services.

    Im

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Those who criticize Chinese working conditions are either ignorant of economics and history or have an agenda to hold China back.

      Well, yes. Many of the people demanding 'better working conditions' in China seem to believe that, if they can increase manufacturing costs in China, manufacturing jobs will magically return to America. In reality, they'll go elsewhere in Asia, and most work that does return to America will be done by machines.

      • Well, yes. Many of the people demanding 'better working conditions' in China seem to believe that, if they can increase manufacturing costs in China, manufacturing jobs will magically return to America. In reality, they'll go elsewhere in Asia, and most work that does return to America will be done by machines.

        It's actually a quite perverted point of view that better working conditions would have to increase cost. For example, improving worker safety and having fewer accidents reduces costs. Having a clean workplace makes it easier to produce items that pass quality control than dirty workplaces. Sexism, racism, or just plain bullying in the workplace doesn't exactly make workers more productive. Excessive overtime increases cost because the work is done by exhausted workers who can't concentrate and therefore wo

    • Imagine if, say, the UK meddled in our business in the 1880s and forced us to improve factory conditions prematurely. Our growth would have been slowed and the eventual creation of the middle class would have been delayed. A well-meaning effort to improve the lives of a few then would have hurt the quality of life for many later.

      Your equation is faulty, because you use words like "few" and "many" on a very ad-hoc basis without quantifying them. Why, exactly, would "few" be affected, and not the entire worker base? And why should those "few" be forced to sacrifice their life quality for the sake of some other "many"? If you know anything about the history of sweatshops in US and Europe, those places were real hell; we'd probably consider them outright torture in some cases, in fact.

      And the abundance of cheap labor, aside from a "sus

    • We cheer on labor rights in China, but complain about unions in the US. Maybe it's the balance, I don't know. But, it seems hypocritical.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        We cheer on labor rights in China, but complain about unions in the US. Maybe it's the balance, I don't know. But, it seems hypocritical.

        US unions seem to be among the biggest cheerleaders for 'labor rights' in China, presumably becuase they're the ones who expect to benefit from increasing Chinese manufacturing costs.

        • by dk20 (914954)
          Or they are hoping to be the first to sign up chinese to their membership. Think of the union dues on millions of chinese workers? The union is a business just like any other, they need new members/dues to function.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday July 29, 2013 @04:21PM (#44416459) Homepage

      Imagine if, say, the UK meddled in our business in the 1880s and forced us to improve factory conditions prematurely. Our growth would have been slowed and the eventual creation of the middle class would have been delayed.

      That is far from an indisputable argument:
      1. Working conditions in the UK were not all that different from working conditions in the US over the same period. For example, child labor was legal in both the US and the UK until well into the 20th century.
      2. An overall growth in wealth does not necessarily create a middle class - you also need the distribution of that wealth to be even enough that those who are not members of the investor class are not living hand-to-mouth. If you want an example of a rising tide not really lifting all boats, look at what happened to GDP versus wage growth [lanekenworthy.net] since 1975.
      3. You're completely ignoring trade unions and government regulation, both of which changed policies dramatically.
      4. I'm not sure which period of the middle class you're talking about, but if it's the one from the 1950's, you also have to factor in the lack of able-bodied men and the G.I. Bill.
      5. There was another significant comparative advantage in play for the US in the 1880's: Many of the raw materials for the products of US factories were from the US, so manufacturing in the US cut transportation costs. If you're raising cattle in Colorado, it's far easier to make that into ground beef in Chicago than it is to ship cattle to Birmingham. If you're mining iron in upper Michigan, it makes more sense to do your smelting in Cleveland or Detroit than it does to ship it to Bath before smelting.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Alternatively you might just have become like Germany, where manufacturing is strong but wages are reasonable and conditions are generally good. You might have moved towards the kind of service economy you have now. After all, the way the UK would have "meddled" would have been though consumers demanding products that are ethically manufactured, and by being willing to pay for them. Apple products are quite expensive anyway, but even with things like basic foodstuffs people are willing to pay for Fair Trade

    • by Maritz (1829006)
      Very reassuring and interesting to see a psychopath's perspective on this. I imagine if we just get rid of 'good conditions' everywhere we'd have much better world economic output. Let's just hope reason prevails.
  • I think a lot of this hand-wringing is just masturbation unless we can see what something like an iPhone completely made in the USA or under Fair Trade conditions would cost. It's easy to for a Westerner to feel righteous indignation about these working conditions in China. However, I want to see how many people will put their money where their mouth is when they are required to pay based upon first world manufacturing costs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think a lot of this hand-wringing is just masturbation unless we can see what something like an iPhone completely made in the USA or under Fair Trade conditions would cost. It's easy to for a Westerner to feel righteous indignation about these working conditions in China. However, I want to see how many people will put their money where their mouth is when they are required to pay based upon first world manufacturing costs.

      $20 more. It would cost about $20 more to have built it paying Us labor wages. There were a flurry of articles on this last year, but the short version is it's not labor costs, it's labor conditions. Specifically that in China, you can wake up the Pullman town stuff in the middle of the night and make them work double shifts at the drop of a hat, without and meaningful (by US standards) worker protections. The Chinese aren't better or faster or even much cheaper, but they'll be obedient little serfs and the

    • IIRC, when they calculated the price of a US-made iPhone, it ended up being something like ~$150 more expensive. That's pretty reasonable. Not to mention that Apple itself makes insane profit on that hardware (didn't they end up with $100 billion in the bank not so long ago?), and there's no reason why they couldn't pay back a little bit more of that to the workers who, you know, actually produce the damn things.

      • For $150 more, you would get a shit-ton of goodwill by building them here in the US. Since most people get these phones financed by their cell phone companies, you wouldn't even notice the difference.

        • For $150 more, you would get a shit-ton of goodwill by building them here in the US. Since most people get these phones financed by their cell phone companies, you wouldn't even notice the difference.

          Unlikely. There was a business analyst on a Canadian news show just last week saying how he's not going to buy the next iPhone because he's not going to drop $900 on a new one. Never mind that this guy is a company chairman and venture capitalist who wouldn't think twice about such a small cost, so his righteous indignation was laughable. Also never mind he was referring to the highest-end iPhone, and that the entry-level one is $700 unsubsidized, and that the fully subsidized one is around $170 here.

          So for

  • Plenty of dirt poor Asian countries full of workers who aren't going to cry about better treatment. If they're willing to wait 10 years, I'm sure they could relocate to Michigan for even cheaper!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the apple can buy up a huge part of detroit, privatize the DPD, and augment a police officer to take a bite out of crime.

      And he never wanted this.

  • "Technology giant Apple is facing fresh allegations of worker rights violations at Chinese factories of one of its suppliers"

    What other western companies do business with the Pegatron Group and why is Apple only singled out for attention by China Labor Watch?
  • Even if there were some questionable rendering of the facts, Mr. Daisey seems to be spot on about Chinese factories. China has only proven - since the Tiananmen Massacre on June 4th 1989 - that they are only interested in giving favor and freedom to multinationals while denying freedom to their own people.

    That said:
    It seems like the factories in China would rather smear anyone who questions their practices, and hope that their US-side clients come to the rescue if it goes global. Failing that, they go to

    • Even if there were some questionable rendering of the facts, Mr. Daisey seems to be spot on about Chinese factories.

      With Mr. Daisey, there was no "questionable rendering of the facts". What he did was purely made up, based on his prejudices and what he thought would get him audiences, with complete disregard to any facts.

    • by Maritz (1829006)

      that they are only interested in giving favor and freedom to multinationals while denying freedom to their own people.

      If they were free, they'd probably have someone else in charge. Can't have that now can we?

  • Would be in Communist China and that is to exploit workers. Or they want Communism to succeed over America, Most likely butt hurt by some politics. Personally I would arrest the CEO and others for UN-American activities.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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