On September 8, China Labor Watch (CLW) wrote a letter to Apple regarding a string of rights violations at the company’s supplier factory, Kunshan Pegatron. On September 10, Apple’s auditing team responded that they had interviewed around 100 workers. Except for the incident regarding the disrespectful behaviour of managers who were throwing workers’ factory cards on the ground, Apple denied CLW’s other allegations.
CLW has a number of videos that show the failure of Apple’s audit. Several videos show that there were at least four managers who were disrespectful to workers, as opposed to just two as Apple mentioned.
There are also two videos of a dispute happening between workers and dispatch company staff. Workers are wanting to resign, but the dispatch company staff would not stamp workers’ resignation form. This meant that workers’ resignation will not be not approved and if they leave, they will not receive their full wages and rewards. This is forced labor. One of the videos was taken a few years ago and the other is a recent video. It is clear that this has been an issue for some time and Apple has yet to address it.
The information for each rights violation has come from many workers, and we also have evidence for the claims as well. We are a small NGO and believe that Apple is intentionally ignoring these issues. Apple’s response to CLW proves that the company’s audit is a failure and that it is just for show.
Letter from China Labor Watch to Apple
September 8, 2020
Dear Mr. Tim Cook,
Recently, a video was circulated on Chinese social media of staff at Kunshan Pegatron throwing workers’ factory cards onto the ground for them to pick up. This is extremely humiliating and disrespectful to workers. Additionally, we have also received complaints from Kunshan Pegatron workers regarding the factory’s mistreatment of workers.
Issues with the employment of dispatch workers and student workers have been long-standing at Apple’s supplier factories. In 2016, we contacted Apple regarding student workers who were owed wages at Jabil Green Point, and in 2017, workers at the same factory protested the factory’s failure to pay promised rewards. This year, we found student workers who were arranged to work at Kunshan Pegatron and their school prohibited them from leaving the factory. Furthermore, workers experienced months long delays in receiving their rewards, which were promised previously, for working at the factory.
Below, we have highlighted some of the major issues we have found at Kunshan Pegatron:
• At first, workers had a rest day for every six days they worked. From August 17, 2020 workers only had a rest day for every eight days they worked.
• Workers are pushed to meet high production targets and sometimes need to use their rest breaks to clear products that have accumulated on the machines.
• Meal breaks are frequently delayed.
• The line leader arbitrarily arranges work meetings to delay the time workers finish their shift.
• When a shift falls on a holiday, the factory would arrange for workers to work on Sunday instead.
• Many workers came to work at the factory because of the rewards. Workers were promised rewards if they worked for 55 days, but the 55 days only includes regular work days from Monday to Friday and weekends do not count. This means workers are to stay at the factory for three months. After three months, workers then have to wait for the list of names of workers who are to receive rewards to be released, and this delays the process for another month. There were some workers who haven’t received their rewards for five months.
• Many students were assigned to work at Pegatron, and their school did not allow them to leave. The students could only leave without going through the formal resignation procedures, which meant they may not receive their wages.
• New workers should be able to resign from the factory by giving three days’ notice, but in reality, the factory may not agree.
• To resign, workers need a stamp and signature from the manager for the resignation form, but they are required to pay 500 to 700 RMB to the labor dispatch company or the line leader for this. If workers do not pay, then staff will delay the process and not stamp their resignation form.
• Factory staff treat workers terribly, scolding them harshly sometimes until they cried.
These rights violations reveal that Apple is falling short of its commitment to “ensure that every workplace provides a safe and respectful environment for everyone” as mentioned in the company’s recently released human rights policy. For years, we have highlighted issues at Apple’s supplier factories, in the hopes that the company will take steps to fundamentally improve the working conditions of workers. We strongly urge Apple to address the aforementioned issues at the Kunshan Pegatron factory.
Thank you very much and we look forward to hearing from you.
Apple’s E-mail Response on September 10, 2020
Thank you for your recent letter. We take any allegation seriously and hold our suppliers to the highest standards in the industry. People are at the heart of everything we do and we work hard to make sure everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect.
As soon as we became aware of the recent incident at Pegatron’s Kunshan facility, we immediately launched a thorough investigation and escalated our concerns to senior management. We have dozens of Apple employees at Pegatron Kunshan and we also rapidly dispatched a team of investigators to the site. Pegatron also took swift action, terminating the two employees involved and apologizing to their new recruits. We interviewed over 100 workers at the facility and reviewed materials and documentation and found no evidence of any additional incidents.
Our teams are working closely with Pegatron’s senior leadership to continue to strengthen their procedures related to the recruitment, hiring, and on-boarding of new employees.
We regularly audit Pegatron facilities and have investigated the incidents you list below, some of which date back several years and all of which we found to be untrue. The only exception to this is in relation to working hours. We began tracking working hours in 2012 and all suppliers are required to adhere to our standards, we have verified again that there are no issues of non payment of wages.
We regularly assess our suppliers to ensure that our strict requirements are met. Last year we conducted 1,142 supplier assessments in nearly 50 countries and, since 2008, over 19 million suppler employees have been trained on workplace rights.
We will continue to work with Pegatron, as we do with all Apple suppliers, to ensure that our standards are being upheld.
– Apple Supplier Responsibility Team