Apple and Foxconn Accused of Breaking Labour Laws in China to Produce iPhones

By Matt Novak on at

Apple and Foxconn have been accused of violating labour laws at a factory where the tech giants are producing the new iPhone, according to a new report from China Labor Watch. Additionally, the nonprofit watchdog alleges that workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, the largest iPhone factory in the world, are working extreme overtime hours in violation of local laws.

Under China’s labour laws, temporary workers can only comprise up to 10 per cent of any given company’s workforce. But according to China Labor Watch, roughly 50 per cent of workers at the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory where iPhones are being produced are temporary. Workers earn roughly $1.68 US per hour standard and $2.52 US per hour for overtime, a wage, “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family living in Zhengzhou city,” says China Labor Watch.

The 51-page report about alleged labour violations, first reported by Reuters, comes just as Apple is expected to announce its latest version of the iPhone at an event in California on Tuesday. Apple told Reuters that the number of temporary workers had “exceeded our standards,” but did not immediately respond to a request for clarification from Gizmodo on Monday morning.

China Labor Watch notes that temporary workers were rare before 2015, but Foxconn has increasingly relied on them in the past few years. Foxconn uses third party contractors to find the temporary workers, which aren’t given many of the same benefits as full time workers

Workers are also punished for not meeting stringent quotas, according to the nonprofit organisation.

From the report:

There is a production quota every day. During the busiest time in peak season, the maximum number of phones that can be produced is 12,000. But on average, each workshop and each shift (day and night shift) produces 11,000 iPhones. In off-peak season, workers produce around 3,000 iPhones, and despite the production quota being much lower than in peak season, there are also fewer workers. As such, workers may have to work harder. If the production quota is not completed, workers will be reprimanded.

China Labor Watch has been monitoring labour conditions in China since the year 2000 and has spent years compiling this latest report, according to the group. And while Apple and Foxconn’s use of temporary workers is getting all the headlines, there’s one interesting little fact buried in the report. Based on China Labor Watch’s estimates the amount that Apple pays for labour on each iPhone is tiny. Their estimate: “Each iPhone requires $4.64 in labour costs.”

You can read the full report here. Gizmodo will update this post if we hear back from Apple.

Featured image: Getty