Electronics Production | August 04, 2011

Group criticises Apple for neglecting workers' health

Apple faces criticism for neglecting complaints about the working conditions in the Chinese facilities of some of its manufacturing partners.
Green Choice Alliance (GCA), a coalition of 36 Chinese NGOs that tracks pollution reports for international companies with factories in China, criticises wiz-kid Apple for not doing enough to aid workers in China that manufacture Apple's products.

Since 2007, Apple has used a combination of style, design and innovative technology to create a sales frenzy over its iPad, iPhone, and other products. Whenever new Apple products go on sale, crowds of fans eager to be the first to get their hands on them line up overnight in cities like New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Behind their stylish image, however, Apple products have a side that many do not know about—pollution and poison. This side is hidden deep within the company‘s secretive supply chain, out of view from the public.

At the same time that Apple has been breaking sales records, workers making its products have been harmed by toxic chemicals. Many of the employees who have been sickened still suffer physically and emotionally. Their labor rights and basic dignity have been ignored and their communities have been burdened with polluted water and air.

The year 2010 witnessed a rash of suicides at the company Foxconn, a major Apple supplier. In all, twelve employees jumped from the tops of buildings, ten of them to their deaths. The grief and pain of these ten young lives cut short is still felt today. Given that Apple rarely discloses information regarding its supply chain, it is hard for the public to know Apple‘s views, other than what was released in a simple statement which merely commented that it was 'saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn'.

One of the companies that GCA mentions is Apple supplier Wintek. It states that its workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals (iPhone screen-cleaning chemicals), but treatment of long-term symptoms was refused. Apple stated in their 2011 Supplier Responsibility Report that Wintek followed the guidelines.

Apple has met with criticism before when it comes to the treatment of workers in Chinese assembly factories. Foxconn, one of Apple's most prominent manufacturing partners, came under fire last year, when several young workers committed suicide. Dismal and unsafe working conditions were blamed. (evertiq reported)

The full report can be found here.


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