Technology monolith, Apple Inc., finds itself in yet another scandal over ethical and international human rights violations committed by its suppliers and manufacturers of the new iPhone. Numerous rumors are buzzing around the internet, speculating that the new iPhone will be made of plastic and cheaper than previous models. Unfortunately, those reporting on the technical revelations surrounding the device are missing the gravity and seriousness of the second scandal in Apple’s overseas supply chain.
Last year, scandals broke out surrounding a member of Apple’s supply chain: Foxconn. The company was exposed by a series of reports to have deplorable working conditions for its employees. In light of those reports, Apple investigated the alleged violations at the Foxconn plant and vowed to make improvements.
Yesterday, Chinese Labor Watch (CLW) released a report. In it, the organization outlines the violations and points of concern it found with this Apple supplier: Pegatron. The report states that Pegatron, through the course of CLW’s investigation was found to have violated 86 labor rights, 36 laws, and 56 ethics codes. These violations fell into 15 categories, which were, “dispatch labor abuse, hiring discrimination, women’s rights violations, underage labor, contract violations, insufficient worker training, excessive working hours, insufficient wages, poor working conditions, poor living conditions, difficulty in taking leave, labor health and safety concerns, ineffective grievance channels, abuse by management, and environmental pollution.”
“If these allegations are true, there are some significant labor violations that have occurred at Apple’s plants overseas,” said James Kauffman an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas of whistleblower and false claims law. “These types of human’s rights violations come to light with the hard work of non-profit organizations like Chinese Labor Watch.”
In the wake of Foxconn, Apple developed a series of social responsibility codes. These were designed to establish standards for Apple’s overseas suppliers to meet. According to the CLW’s report, in May of this year, Apple “heralded that its suppliers had achieved 99 percent compliance with Apple’s 60-hour work week rule, this despite the fact that 60 hours is a direct violation of China’s 49-hour statutory limit.” If the allegations of the CLW are true on this point, Apple’s code established goals that, even if met, would be illegal.
This latest in the string of scandals facing Apple’s supply lines beg the question of why the company cannot or will not either assure its subsidiary’s employee safety and wellbeing or simply do business in safer markets. In the absence of better reasoning on the part of Apple, it seems that the financial benefits of employing such low-wage labor outweigh the negative social, humanitarian and political effects of being exposed with such practices.
Will the trend end? Regrettably, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. According to the late Steve Jobs, ‘Apple is never coming back.’