At 9:00 am Beijing time on December 31, 2020, hundreds of dispatch (temporary) workers from Pegatron’s factory in Kunshan gathered by the recruitment center of the factory, protesting that their promised bonuses were deducted for no reason.
Pegatron Kunshan recently announced a reduction of 10% of the promised bonuses for all dispatch workers who started producing iPhones at the factory in September, and forced these workers to go to labor dispatch companies located in the factory to sign documents to agree to these changes.
Pegatron Kunshan did not respect the rights of newly recruited workers in early September. A short video went viral on Chinese social media of Pegatron recruitment managers deliberately throwing new workers’ ID cards on the ground for workers to pick up. After the incident was exposed, a large number of workers resigned and Apple’s orders could not be completed on schedule. In mid-September, thousands of temporary workers were recruited during the peak production season of Apple’s iPhones. These workers were promised that they would receive a bonus of more than 10,000 yuan after working for 55 work days. However, after the workers had worked in the factory for 55 days, they still did not receive their bonuses. In mid-December, the workers were told that they could not receive their promised bonuses in full, and the factory and labor dispatch companies located inside the factory began to intimidate and threaten workers for various reasons, maliciously lowering and defaulting on the promised bonuses. Therefore, workers organized the protest, hoping to put pressure on Pegatron through large-scale collective actions to defend their rights and refused to sign documents agreeing to cut their pay.
On December 19, there were nearly a thousand workers protesting at Pegatron’s factory in Shanghai over the same issue. Dozens of Pegatron workers were arrested and detained. There was also a mass protest in November by thousands of workers from Foxconn Chengdu, a factory producing iPad and the Watch for Apple, asking for owed wages.
At around 10:00 am Beijing time on December 31, 2020, hundreds of protesters began marching towards the People’s Government of Lujia Town, Kunshan City. Workers continued to join in on the road and the group soon reached nearly a thousand protesters. Angry workers shouted “We refuse to accept the 10% reduction, give back our wages” and kept marching forward. Several riot police cars were driving slowly side by side with the marching workers. There were also many riot police wearing bulletproof vests standing on the sidewalk. Shortly after the march started, riot police knocked down and took away at least six male and female workers at the scene.
China Labor Watch believes that withholding wages to force workers to work at factories is a form of forced labor. Because Pegatron is unwilling to provide workers with long-term stable work contracts, a huge number of temporary workers are recruited by labor dispatch companies during peak season, which often account for more than 40% of the total number of Pegatron’s workers. It is also a serious violation of China’s labor law which limits temporary dispatch workers to 10% of the total number of workers.
Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch, wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook on September 8th, 2020 bringing to his attention the wage issues of dispatch workers. But Apple replied that they had found no issues regarding the non payment of wages. The frequent large-scale protests at Apple’s supplier factories over unpaid wages in China reveals the failure of Apple’s audit system to protect workers’ rights.