[Investigative Report] Apple Watch Series 4 – Still Failed to Protect Teenage Student Workers

Executive Summary

In 2017, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) published the investigative report “Apple Watch 3 – Exploit Student Workers Further. An Investigative Report on Apple Watch’s Exclusive Manufacturer” disclosing Apple’s plan to relocate the Apple Watch production to Quanta Computer’s Chongqing factory and the student workers violations found in it. After the releasing of the report, both Apple and Quanta denied the production relationship between them. In summer 2018, a further in-depth re-visiting investigation was conducted.

This report discloses that Apple Inc. is undoubtedly manufacturing Apple Watch in Quanta Chongqing facilities using significant numbers of student workers aged 16-19 years. It also reveals that working conditions for student interns in the factory do not comply with the “Administrative Provisions Regarding Internships for Vocational School Students” issued by the Chinese government and the “Student Worker Protections” explicated in Apple’s “Supplier Responsibility Standards”.

Since the releasing of the 2017 report, the violations found have barely been corrected. The major findings of the re-visiting investigation for 2018 are outlined below:

  1. Irrelevant Majors: Students majoring in subjects unrelated to the electronics industry are still being sent to work as ordinary production line workers. The majors include e-commerce, makeup and hair beauty, early education, hotel management etc.
  2. Absence of educational elements: Students reported that the internships have literally nothing to do with learning. None of the learning documents required by the law are prepared for the students.
  3. Forced labour: Students reported that they cannot receive their graduation certificate without performing the compulsory internship. Schools also pressure students’ parents to make the students work.
  4. Unlawful shift arrangements: It is very common for student interns at Quanta to work 12 hours a day and night shifts, both of which is in violation of local regulations.
  5. Unlawful Recruitment: Students in their year 1 of enrollment are also sent to the factory to work, which is in violation of local regulations.

SACOM’s Demands to Apple

Apple holds an inevitable responsibility to guarantee its Apple Watch exclusive supplier is operating in compliance with Apple’s own policy and other local regulations. Based on these violations of the rights of student interns, we demand Apple to make improvements immediately. Our demands to Apple Inc. are as follows:

  1. Strictly apply the Supplier Responsibility Standards to all affiliated manufacturers worldwide;
  2. Guarantee that all manufacturers comply with local labour laws and regulations;
  3. Actively provide sufficient protection to all student workers in its supply chain including:
  • Stop recruiting student workers with unrelated majors
  • Provide real vocational training to student workers
  • Stop assigning student workers to work overtime and night shifts, both of which are illegal
  1. Record the findings of this report in Apple’s next Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Progress Report;
  2. Organise a meeting involving SACOM, Apple and Quanta representatives to establish a timetable for rectifying Quanta’s violation of its employees’ labour rights.

Please click here to download the full report.