- Apr 12, 2001
In a lengthy piece detailing the hardships that workers in Apple's supply chain can face, Bloomberg follows the story of a factory worker at Flextronics International, a contract manufacturer based in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur that produced camera parts for the iPhone 5.
Ahead of the launch of the iPhone 5, Flextronics had to significantly ramp up production, hiring a 1,500 new employees via brokers and recruiters in Nepal, Malaysia, and surrounding areas. Because factory jobs are highly desired, many families pay upfront fees to brokers to acquire the positions, resulting in loans that can take "imported" workers years to pay off, with factory managers controlling when workers are able to leave.
Inside a Flextronics factory in Fort Worth, Texas. Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal
The frenzy to hire workers was how one Nepalese man, Bibek Dhong, found himself paying $250 and handing over his passport to a recruiter who promised him a good job. Dhong was forced to pay another $500 to a broker (6 months of his wages from his former job as a dairy farmer) and sign a debt agreement stating he would pay $400 more. Dhong was told to keep his broker fees secret, as Apple has a policy that prevents excessive charges by recruiters.For the iPhone 5 rollout, a recruiter working for Flextronics contacted four brokers in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, in late August and early September, urgently seeking 1,500 men to make cameras, according to three of the four brokers. The pressure to move so many men so quickly was unprecedented. "The recruitment agency was telling me, 'We need these workers, you have to send them by today,'" says Rajan Shrestha, managing director of a small company called Sharp Human Resources.
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Article Link: Report Examines Labor Violations at Apple Supplier's Malaysian Plant