A supplier for Apple Inc. located in eastern China denied allegations by a rights group in New York that workers at its factories have ten-hour shifts in polluted, loud conditions, without receiving overtime pay or adequate protection for their safety, to make parts for iPhones and MacBooks. The workers are also allegedly housed in dirty dormitories and must take cold showers.
The charges made by the group highlight how difficult it is to manage complex supply chains on a global scale, even for businesses such as Apple, that have embraced ethical sourcing as one of its priorities.
Catcher Technology which operates the Suqian factory located approximately 311 miles to the northwest of Shanghai, announced on Wednesday through a prepared statement that it investigated and had verified that none of the rights group’s claims were accurate.
The company also said it would be acquiring land close to its factory and would build new housing for the workers because it was driven to make enhancements in the living standards for its employees.
China Labor Watch, whose findings were published Tuesday, said they had conducted an undercover investigation that ran between October of 2017 and January of 2018.
The group said workers did not have proper gloves and their hands suffered from peeling and irritated skin. Others suffered from machine oil that had splashed into their eyes. The rights group added that the main door of the factory opened just 12 inches and that the worker’s dormitories did not have emergency exits, calling both fire hazards.
The report showed photos of cramped dormitories and foamy wastewater that it said had been overflowing onto nearby sidewalks.
In a prepared statement, Li Qiang the executive director of China Labor Watch said Apple needed to uphold its claim of honoring the law in China.
In 2013 and 2015, the same rights group investigated the factory and came away with similar labor rights and safety violations.
Apple Inc. says it maintains a team of monitors onsite at the factory, which has helped to make significant progress in raising the standards dating back to 2012.
Apple in response to the allegations said it had sent its own investigative team to the factory to conduct interviews of workers, but found there was no evidence of Catcher violating Apple standards.
A spokesperson for Apple said the company knows its work is never done and it investigates all allegations that are made.