In Sep 2017, SACOM initiated the international campaign “iSlave at 10” to disclose Apple’s repetitive labour right violations in its supply chain. An investigative report named “Apple Watch 3 – Exploit Student Workers Further” was published to unveil series of student workers violations found in Quanta Chongqing, a new Apple Watch manufacturer in an inner province of China. Receiving intensive social attention, SACOM soon worked with Financial Times to unveil similar student violations found in Foxconn Zhengzhou, another Apple factory in Nov 2018.
Under great pressure from international NGOs and the general public, Apple admitted the violations and promised to carry out correction measures. The company also included a new standard in its supplier responsibility requirement to limit the using to student workers to not more than 10% in its supplying facilities.
To examine the implementation of the new standard, SACOM undertook a revisiting investigation targeting the Quanta Chongqing factory and found that the situation has barely been improved. On 23th Oct 2018, SACOM published the revisiting investigative report “Apple Watch Series 4 – Still Failed to Protect Teenage Student Workers” targeting Quanta Chongqing. The issue was widely covered by international media including Financial Times, The Guardian, BBC, CNN and others.
Responding to SACOM’s findings, Apple initiated an “urgent investigation” in late October and admitted that student workers manufacturing Apple Watch in the factory were working overtime and night shifts, which are both illegal.
At the same time, Quanta Computer denied it takes school students on internships. However, a student who used to work in Quanta Chongqing’s Apple Watch assembly line reported that he and at least other 197 student workers were sent back to their school urgently on 24th Oct 2018, which is a day after the publishing of SACOM’s report. This group of student workers were all working in Quanta’s F5 plant that manufacture Apple Watch, working 12 hours a day with only one day off per week.
SACOM acknowledged Apple and Quanta’s quick reactions to SACOM’s reports. However, we have to point out that it is the multinational brand’s responsibility to actively and regularly examine the CSR compliance of its supply chain. Also, the act of including new CSR standards itself do not help improving workers’ condition at all if actual implementation is absent. The case of Quanta has clearly proven that Apple did not have an effective means to guarantee the CSR compliance of its suppliers.
SACOM will continue to monitor the labour right condition in Apple’s supply chain.
We demand Apple to restructure its monitoring mechanism and guarantee all of its suppliers are operating complying with local regulations as well as Apple’s own policy.