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May 06, 2021

Apple factory workers forced to sign 'anti-suicide' pledge: report

Apple gets a lot of good PR; a perk, definitively, for being one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

1338398_pollution But it’s not always good. Behind the iPads and iPhones have been long-standing allegations of employee abuse at Apple’s factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, where disgruntled workers jumping to their deaths famously prompted suicide nets being put up at site dormitories last year.

Though the plants are run by a company called Foxconn, they nonetheless fall under Apple’s umbrella, and the California-based tech giant is facing another potential nightmare in the form of new research into its operations.

According to two NGOs that conducted inquiries into work conditions at the Chinese factories – the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour – employees of the plants are treated “inhumanely” and “like machines.”

More concerning claims suggest that workers of the plant, who allegedly are forced into heavy overtime hours to meet western demand for Apple gadgets, have been urged to sign an “anti-suicide” pledge following reports of increased employee suicide.

Also, the study notes, when the first iPad came out in April, 2010, Chinese workers were “sometimes pressured” into taking only one day off in 13 ahead of the tablet’s release. In addition, one payslip from a plant worker allegedly showed overtime of 98 hours performed in a month, well over the legal limit of 36.

When it comes to overtime, it might be tough to fault workers for clamouring for more hours. Says the report, without OT, employees at the Apple plants would be forced to rely on their paltry wages: about $200 per month for a 48-hour work week, or $1.04 per hour.

A reminder: the above points are allegations against Apple and Foxconn, not facts. Yet that doesn’t mean they can’t help.

When similar allegations were made against Nike for using so-called sweatshops in the nineties, the athletic outfitter responded in a big way, revamping the labour conditions in its supplier factories at its own cost. By 2004, a staff of 97 was inspecting hundreds of Nike supplier plants, grading them on labour standards and working with managers to improve areas of conflicts.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...