Apple and Foxconn Admit Hiring Too Many Temporary Workers in China to Assemble iPhones, Potentially Violating Labor Laws

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Apple and manufacturing partner Foxconn have admitted to recruiting too many temporary staff in one of the world's biggest iPhone factories, following a report from a non-profit advocacy group alleging harsh working conditions (via Bloomberg).


China Labor Watch (CLW), which investigates conditions in the country's factories, published its report on Sunday accusing the two companies of breaching several Chinese labor laws, including one barring temporary staff from exceeding 10 percent of the total workforce.

CLW said undercover investigators worked in Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant in China and found that temporary staff, known as "dispatch workers," made up about 50 percent of the workforce in August, when the supply chain is usually ramped up ahead of new iPhone releases. Chinese labor law allows a maximum of 10 percent.
Our recent findings on working conditions at Zhengzhou Foxconn highlights several issues which are in violation of Apple's own code of conduct. Apple has the responsibility and capacity to make fundamental improvements to the working conditions along its supply chain, however, Apple is now transferring costs from the trade war through their suppliers to workers and profiting from the exploitation of Chinese workers.
In a statement, Apple said it investigated the percentage of temporary workers among the overall workforce and found it "exceeded our standards," and said it was working with Foxconn to "immediately resolve the issue."

In addition, Apple said it had found that interns at a supplier facility worked overtime at night, something which violating company policy, but that it had corrected the issue. The company said the interns worked overtime voluntarily and were properly compensated.

Despite the admissions, Apple rebutted allegations of lapses in people management and declined to comment on whether the excess amounted to a breach of Chinese labor law.
"We believe everyone in our supply chain should be treated with dignity and respect," Apple said in a statement. "To make sure our high standards are being adhered to, we have robust management systems in place beginning with training on workplace rights, on-site worker interviews, anonymous grievance channels and ongoing audits."
Separately, Foxconn also admitted it had discovered an over-reliance on temporary workers dispatch workers and said it "immediately began a detailed process to ensure that all issues were addressed."

Around 12,000 iPhones are assembled per shift at the Zhengzhou factory, according to CLW's report. However, Apple's 2018 iPhone XS models were said to be more complex to build than 2017's iPhone X and therefore required more workers.

This isn't the first time Apple and Foxconn have come in for criticism over working conditions in Chinese iPhone factories. In 2017, the companies confirmed instances of high school students working overtime to assemble the iPhone X when they shouldn't have been allowed.

Both companies took remedial action over the issue, and Apple sent specialists to the manufacturing plant to work with management to ensure standards were properly followed.

In its latest annual supplier responsibility report, Apple said it conducted 44,000 interviews with supplier employees in 2018 to make sure they were properly trained and knew how to voice concerns. Apple also said it was taking new steps to prevent forced labor.

Apple will hold its annual iPhone-centric event on Tuesday, September 10 at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus, where it is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones alongside an Apple Watch refresh and other announcements.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Apple and Foxconn Admit Hiring Too Many Temporary Workers in China to Assemble iPhones, Potentially Violating Labor Laws
 

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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Nothing surprising for any US companies.
Most of them have outsourced/contract employees (which means they are not considered full time employees, thus the company doesn’t have to cover most things like benefits, etc) in their foreign subsidiaries. If this even happens at admin level, you can make an educated guess what they do for anything lower than that, especially in factories etc.
 

itsmemuffins

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Every time apple gets caught out. “Oh sorry guys! We didn’t know. We are going to do better.” Get caught out again. “Oops… is it that bad? We didn’t know. Promise we’ll do better.”

Apple is really starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Lucky for Apple Google leaves an even worse taste.
 
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btrach144

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Apple just didn't make a small mistake, they made a major one. The limit is 10% and Apple hired 50%. HALF of the workforce is temp workers.

In the USA, temp workers often receive less wage, less benefits, and are treated as second class in the company.

Apple clearly knew what they were doing here. That's crazy that they think they could get away with half their workforce being temps.
 

Taipan

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Apple just didn't make a small mistake, they made a major one. The limit is 10% and Apple hired 50%. HALF of the workforce is temp workers.

In the USA, temp workers often receive less wage, less benefits, and are treated as second class in the company.

Apple clearly knew what they were doing here. That's crazy that they think they could get away with half their workforce being temps.
Are you sure Apple hired them? AFAIK Foxconn did. The way I see it, Apple is already caring more than any other of Foxconn‘s customers.
 
Apple trains workers on how to voice complaints?

I would wager voicing a complaint is a one-way trip to unemployment.

At best, Apple would ignore the complaint. They can't claim to have thousands of on-the-ground interviews and not notice that they're in violation of a labor law by such a wide margin. I would wager they knew exactly what was happening with the iPhone manufacturing ramp-up. Just like they knew exactly what they were doing with backdating stock options, just like they knew exactly what they were doing with silently throttling old models of phones with software updates, just like they knew exactly what they were doing with not disclosing that Siri shares your voice recordings with them.

And they have the gall to tell you they look up to MLK and Robert Kennedy, Jr., and that those people are their north star, etc., as if any of the corporatism has anything to do with those leaders.

When Tim Cook came to Apple he mastered China like no other American company. People forget the original iMacs were actually made in California. Of course as Tim Cook would tell it, American workers aren't smart enough for final assembly production because we don't have the skill set. Yet somehow we did before he came to Apple.

I'm sure he's bright, but he's also cunning.
 

Kabeyun

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I find it fascinating that this site posts all manner of articles about Android, and Xiaomi, and Huawei, and Samsung, etc etc. when it comes to products. “It’s now a tech site, not just an Apple site,” everyone says. But when it comes to Chinese supply chain conditions, there’s a peculiar quiet here unless it’s about Apple/Foxconn.

I guess Apple must be the only one making their phones in China. Learn something every day.
 

itsmemuffins

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I find it fascinating that this site posts all manner of articles about Android, and Xiaomi, and Huawei, and Samsung, etc etc. when it comes to products. “It’s now a tech site, not just an Apple site,” everyone says. But when it comes to Chinese supply chain conditions, there’s a peculiar quiet here unless it’s about Apple/Foxconn.

I guess Apple must be the only one making their phones in China. Learn something every day.
I think it is because Apple and Tim Cook hold themselves as paragons of virtue.
 

Justanotherfanboy

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Cannot wait for AI to displace all of these workers, forever...

Then we won’t have to hear these complaints (interestingly enough, NOT reported from any real workers, temp or otherwise... despite an anonymous grievance line being available) from inside factories, via labor law “spies”, posing as workers.
Nothing like using a little sneaky dishonesty... you know, just to make sure there’s no sneaky dishonesty going on!!
 

69Mustang

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I find it fascinating that this site posts all manner of articles about Android, and Xiaomi, and Huawei, and Samsung, etc etc. when it comes to products. “It’s now a tech site, not just an Apple site,” everyone says. But when it comes to Chinese supply chain conditions, there’s a peculiar quiet here unless it’s about Apple/Foxconn.

I guess Apple must be the only one making their phones in China. Learn something every day.
Could it be because MR repackages stories the that are reported by other sources? Those sources typically write about supply chain issues with the only company that regularly touts it's care and concern for the supply chain. MR can only report on what's written. No one is really writing about the others because the others aren't calling attention to themselves. But even if they did write about others, how would that change the circumstances here with Foxconn and Apple?

As for articles about Apple competitors... it's still probably about 25 or 30-to-1 for articles about Apple vs one of their competitors. This is still an Apple-centric site.
 
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69Mustang

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In between a rock and a hard place
Cannot wait for AI to displace all of these workers, forever...

Then we won’t have to hear these complaints (interestingly enough, NOT reported from any real workers, temp or otherwise... despite an anonymous grievance line being available) from inside factories, via labor law “spies”, posing as workers.
Nothing like using a little sneaky dishonesty... you know, just to make sure there’s no sneaky dishonesty going on!!
Wait. Going undercover to ensure companies aren't violating the law and abusing workers is sneaky dishonesty? o_O Sneaky yes, but that's part and parcel of undercover. What's dishonest about making sure companies are following the law?
 

bobob

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Jan 11, 2008
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Nothing surprising for any US companies.
Most of them have outsourced/contract employees (which means they are not considered full time employees, thus the company doesn’t have to cover most things like benefits, etc) in their foreign subsidiaries. If this even happens at admin level, you can make an educated guess what they do for anything lower than that, especially in factories etc.
Add in the ruleless void of the gig economy and the race to the bottom just keeps accelerating.
 

Jim Lahey

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Just popped in for the uninformed, irrational knee-jerk vitriol and dummy spitting. Am I too early? Has Tim Cook been fired yet etc?
 

sw1tcher

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Jan 6, 2004
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Are you sure Apple hired them? AFAIK Foxconn did. The way I see it, Apple is already caring more than any other of Foxconn‘s customers.
Apple only cares when they're caught because it makes them look bad.

If Apple was really concerned and cared about making sure their contractor's employees were treated fairly and "with dignity and respect," they could staff several of their own employees at Foxconn during the ramp up period to make sure Apple's high standards are being adhered to by Foxconn.

As it is now, Apple's letting the Fox(conn) guard the hen house.
 
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Justanotherfanboy

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Wait. Going undercover to ensure companies aren't violating the law and abusing workers is sneaky dishonesty? o_O Sneaky yes, but that's part and parcel of undercover. What's dishonest about making sure companies are following the law?
What’s dishonest about gaining a job, under false pretenses... for a purpose other than actually working to build the products you claim in the interview that you wish to do?
Ummmmmmmm.... you SURE you need hand-holding figuring that one out??
I’m not saying that level of dishonesty isn’t currently necessary to perform that job, btw... my only comment was that when AI is performing these rote jobs, thankfully- that job position can be all but eliminated as well.

Note:
In this case- “abusing” workers wasn’t even a vague allegation. Sounds like the report merely exposed an inordinate amount of temp vs. permanent employees.
 
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Ramchi

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Why should anyone be surprised and this is why many companies manufacture products there to cut cost and maximize profit.
No way! Only Apple able to make maximum profits due to low manufacturing cost.... remember Apple takes 9% Mobile phone profits than its competitors....

But modern day slavery is like this temporary workers, Asian manufacturing hub, worst working condition, dealing with hazardous work environments.....at lowest cost! When mistakes happen, there is always supplier issue, supplier components issue but when things go well, it is due to well knitted and integrated ecosystem of hardware and software
 

sw1tcher

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Jan 6, 2004
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Here's another reason why Apple cannot bring iPhone manufacturing to the U.S.

Foxconn cannot so easily exploit their workers, and Apple cannot easily look the other way.
 
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Rogifan

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So did Apple do this or was it Foxconn? Does Apple employ temporary workers in China or are they employed by Foxconn? If it’s Foxconn do they have this issue with other companies they manufacture for or just Apple? Does this report document actual worker abuse or is it just saying the balance between temporary and permanent employees was off?