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Apple, Foxconn slammed by SACOM on worker abuse in China

Agam Shah | June 1, 2012
A watchdog group has slammed Apple and its supplier Foxconn for failing to take corrective action on the plight of factory workers in China, saying the companies continue to abuse employees while providing poor working conditions.

The lack of integration of workers into the company's management also continues and employees are unaware of their rights, SACOM said. Workers are under tight company control and have to sign up for a company-controlled union. FLA earlier cited Foxconn's working committees for lacking worker representation, and Foxconn said it would ensure worker representation without management interference.

Workers also do not receive adequate safety training, and the management imposes "humiliating disciplinary measures on workers," SACOM said. Some of those actions include cleaning toilets and forcing workers to write and read out in front of other employees long confession letters admitting guilt.

SACOM also criticized the working conditions, saying workers were unaware of the chemicals they are being exposed to in the production lines, which raises health concerns. Foxconn had already been under scrutiny following a string of suicide attempts at facilities in China in 2010 and after an explosion at the Chengdu factory last year killed three people. But SACOM said 728 cases of injuries were reported between May 2011 and April this year in Shenzhen, and people in middle management fail to report many injuries since injuries affect their bonuses.

The report exposes Apple's "broken promises" to stop worker abuse, said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffmann, the executive director of SumOfUs.org, a corporate accountability group, in a statement.

"The most worrying finding of all is that some workers' production targets are being increased beyond reasonable expectations, and then they are forced to work unpaid overtime if they don't meet those targets," Stinebrickner-Kauffmann said.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. But the company has acknowledged violations to its supplier code of conduct related to issues such as wages, underage labor and working conditions in its 2012 annual supplier report. Apple has said the company is holding suppliers accountable and leading the way in improving working conditions.

 

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