Apple supplier exposed workers to hazards, poor working conditions


Catcher Technology, a Taiwan-based factory making casings for Apple’s iPhone and Mac, violated 14 of Apple’s supplier-responsibility standards, according to China Labor Watch and Bloomberg reports on Tuesday.

From October 2017 to January 2018, CLW conducted an investigation at a Catcher factory based in Suqian. There were major issues found at Catcher. That includes occupational health and safety, pollution, and work schedule as reported in the investigation.

Catcher has a record of violation of work rights. CLW found in 2014 rights violations including discriminatory hiring policies, lack of safety training, long work hours, and low wages.

In its recent report on Catcher, CLW detailed a work schedule that saw workers losing overtime pay:

The Catcher factory schedules Saturdays as overtime with workers being paid double time, and Sundays as days off. However, the factory has now adopted a “seven shifts, six rotations” work schedule. From Monday to Friday, workers take turns in having a day off; which means that workers have their day off earlier in the week but then make up that day of work later on. Saturdays are used to make up and is therefore not paid double time, and Sundays are still counted as regular workdays. Workers affected by this schedule lose around 500 RMB ($76.57 USD) every month in overtime pay.

On May 25, 2017, CLW found that there was a toxic gas poisoning incident at Catcher’s A6 workshop. The incident resulted in the hospitalization of 90 workers, with five admitted to intensive care.

It was also reported in Bloomberg that when a journalist visited the plant in January, about eight workers shared a cramped dorm room of roughly four bunk beds. Dorms lack hot water and showers. The factory workers had also  complained of long, harsh work hours and concerns about safety issues.

An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg it sent additional team members to audit the factory upon hearing of the CLW’s impending report. The Apple spokesperson said after interviewing 150 people, the Apple team didn’t find evidence of violation of its standards.

“We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made. We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain,” the Apple spokeswoman added to Bloomberg.

The Catcher factory also supplies parts for Samsung, HP, Lenovo, and LG.

In 2016, Apple issued a code of conduct for its suppliers to adhere to. It assess suppliers in three main categories: labor and human rights, environmental responsibility, and health and safety. On its website, Apple says it conducted 705 supplier assessments in 2016, up from 574 in 2015. Numbers for 2017 haven’t been published yet by the company.