Today (March 24, 2017), the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition is available to order online worldwide and in stores, in recognition of more than 10 years of partnership between Apple and (RED) to fight AIDS. As Apple continues to enhance its corporate social responsibility, it is also important to pay attention to the fundamental human rights of the workers who produced these special iPhones that contributes to advance people’s right to health.


The following letter comes from a New York University student who conducted an undercover investigation in an iPhone factory in China. Violations of human rights were documented.


Dear Apple Suppliers Responsibility Team,


I am writing to report the violations of Apple Supplier Code of Conduct found in one of the Pegatron factories in Shanghai called Changshuo. And I am looking for a respond of these violations that I am reporting.


I am a current New York University student, pursing Master of Public Administration in Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. This summer I conducted an undercover investigation in Changshuo. From June 20 to Aug 5, I worked and lived there as an ordinary worker. Here is what I found:


Involuntary Overtime

According to the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct, “all overtime must be voluntary.” However, during my time in Changshuo, I could never get a permission of not overtime.


July 6, I talked with my supervisor for the first time about stop working overtime. I said I got a part-time position in the city which is better paid and I could not work during the overtime hours. I didn’t get an answer until 4 days later. And within these 4 days, there were back and forth arguments, interrogation, and criticisms from the managers. I was taken to the manger that was four level higher than me. And the final answer I got was a “no.” Managers had very bad attitude and criticized me as “a selfish person.”


They reasoned that there was no one to take my station if I didn’t work overtime. If that was the case and the factory really does not have any mechanisms to handle the situation, how can it keeps its promise about voluntary overtime?


I even went to the Employee Services Center to complain later. The staff there said workers were all just cooperating with the production in the factory and they invalidated my claim that me being “forced” to do overtime. My complaint was never entered into the system in the end.


A more detailed story is available here (https://wp.nyu.edu/gallatin_human_rights_fellows/category/2016/deijan-zeng/). I urge Apple and its suppliers to take actions, build up relevant mechanisms to deal with this situation and fulfill its promise of “voluntary overtime.”


Discrimination on Employment

According to the Code of Conduct, “Supplier shall not require pregnancy or medical tests, except where required by applicable laws or regulations or prudent for workplace safety, and shall not improperly discriminate based on test results.”


In Changshuo, physical examination is required before workers get employed. Women who are pregnant and people with tattoo longer than 10 centimeters will not be able to get the employment. The doctor told us this clearly before we paid for and conducted the test. These explicit discriminations in employment violates the principle of the Code of Conduct.


Protections on Stations with Laser and Noise

According to the Could of Conduct, “Supplier shall provide workers with job-related, appropriately maintained personal protective equipment and instruction on its proper use.” However, in Changshuo, this is unfulfilled. In stations that with the noise warning sign, workers are not provided earplugs, such as the stations using the airbrush to clean the housing. In stations that with the laser warning sign, workers are not provided eye protection equipments. I worried these situations might damage workers’ health in a long term.


In the end, I wish Apple and its suppliers can keep their promises according to the Apple Suppliers Code of Conduct and ensure the fundamental rights of workers are protected.


Additionally, I require Apple to respond to my comments giving further explanation and proper course of action to the situations that occurred during my time at Changshuo.



Dejian (Ken) Zeng

Master of Public Administration Candidate

Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

New York University

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