Hong Kong, 26 February, 2013

Dear Apple’s shareholders,

On the eve of Apple‘s annual shareholders meeting in the U.S., Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) and other labour organizations in Hong Kong come to the Apple Store located in Causeway Bay, to protest against the Apple Inc. (Apple) conniving at suppliers’ harsh labour practices. Meanwhile, SACOM also take the opportunity appeal to shareholders to look squarely at Apple‘s shameless infringement on labour rights. Apple shareholders should use their influential power to take part in governing Apple and to force the management to adhere to the labour rights standards.

Since 2005, Apple has released the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct stating that suppliers should comply with the international labour standards, and requesting that “Apple’s supply chain provides safe working conditions, respect workers, that they are treated with dignity”. SACOM, however, find Apple fails in its responsibilities which laid down in its Supplier Code of Conduct. To make sure that workers can meet the daily production targets, the management adopt a number of inhumane management methods. For instance, depriving workers’ legitimate rights to take toilet breaks, ergonomic breaks and meal breaks.

Apple joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in January 2012, but the labour rights abuses are still widespread in Apple’s supply chain.. At the end of 2012, SACOM conducted investigation in three Apple’s suppliers, Foxlink, Pegatron and Wintek. Similar to Foxconn, military-style management is adopted in the factories. Rampant labour rights violations including unpaid overtime work, long working hours, forced internship, excessive use of dispatch labour, poor occupational safety. The following is the voice from a Sichuan student who worked at the polishing department of Riteng for producing iPads.

“The production target is 5000 pieces per day. I am really exhausted…. I want to go back to the school, but my teacher said we would not receive our graduation certificates if we left.”

Apple always deploys its staff to monitor the on-site production process at its suppliers. Obviously, it knows very well on the non-compliance, but it keeps turning a blind eye to the problems. Apple’s net profit recorded at US$ 41.7 billion (about HK$ 325 billion) last year. Yet, it still requires its suppliers to complete the production by urgent orders with a very low unit price and a short delivery time. Harsh management methods are inevitably adopted. Although Apple has been well-informed of these violations, it has intentionally neglected its corporate social responsibility. All these labour rights violations are incredibly shameful.

Shareholders, as the company’s investors, should bear the moral responsibility for the operation and purchasing practices of Apple, and monitor Apple to improve the labour practices at its suppliers. SACOM call on Apple’s shareholders to scrutinize the company to strictly enforce its commitment on its Code of Conduct and corporate social responsibility, that is:

1. to allow workers to form trade unions by democratic elections in accordance with the Chinese Trade Union Law;

2. to stop using student workers immediately;

3. to provide a living wage of all workers which enables workers to support themselves and their families;

4. to review management methods and to ensure workers are treated with respect and dignity;

5. to conduct labour rights training for workers, particularly training on occupational health and safety; and

6. to compensate victims for the non-compliance of the Apple’s Code of Conduct.

Yours faithfully,
Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour