14 Apr, 2021

Humanitarian scandals inside Apple labs

It seems that the Apple’s scandals won’t end, the suffering scandal of its factory workers is one of its scandals.  The BBC released a documentary in which it clarified the factories’ state of Taiwanese electronic manufacturers, and it was clearly shown that Apple was deceived and violated its promises to improve the conditions of workers in its companies or companies associated with it.

Years ago, when some human rights activists and journalists discovered the suffering of Foxconn factories that manufacture smart phones for Apple and their employment in harsh conditions that prompted some of them to commit suicide by jumping from buildings.  The company's response was not to improve working conditions, but by installing nets around the buildings to catch them if they jumped, as well as appointing security personnel to prevent them from reaching the roof and committing suicide.  Human rights organizations attacked Apple, which responded by visiting Foxconn and granting them money as assistance to improve employment conditions, and Apple also designated a page on its official website to indicate the improvement in working conditions, hours and other details that turned out to be mere illusions and lies for the company, according to the BBC report.

BBC journalists went into hiding, entered Apple factory, held hidden meetings with the workers, and published a documentary film of nearly an hour duration that revealed several points, the most important ones are:

  1. Workers under the age of 18 are being employed for long hours, sometimes exceeding 12 hours, and also late at night, contrary to Apple's promises.

  2. The number of normal daily work hours is 12 hours – Apple reported 8 to 9 hours - and also up to 16 hours. Apple stated that overtime is voluntary!

  3. Employees work 18 straight days without leave, while Apple reported the opposite.

  4. Some workers work in harsh and inhuman operating conditions, some in loud noises, without any sound shield on their ears, while Apple stated that the working conditions are in line with standards.

  5. Workers' payrolls do not show that they received overtime pay or even the number of hours they worked basically. Apple stated that overtime is paid.

  6. The workers are always and publicly threatened that there are alternative workers, and if they do not work as required, they will be replaced immediately.

  7. Workers indicated that they do not eat and just want to rest from the exhausting work. This means they don’t have enough rest periods at work.

The scene is confirmed when another report reveals increasing in labor and human rights violations in Apple's global supply chain, these fundamental violations that were discovered after a reviewing  the working conditions of supply chain employees in 30 countries.  Apple trained more than 3 million supplier employee in their rights last year and tracked hours of work for 1.3 million people per week.

The violations included work offences, forging working hours, and harassment. Apple conducted 756 audits in total, and its report provided detailing some of the violations that were deemed "grave breaches of compliance."  In 2016, it recorded 22 basic violations, 10 labor violations, nine cases of working hours forging, two incidents of harassment, one underage labor case for a worker of 15, and 44 major violations that included 38 cases of forging work hours.

On 2015, a complaint was raised by an Apple store employee to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, saying: The company treats its employees like criminals.  This was according to an e-mail opened by the court that was part of the lawsuit that was filed against Apple in 2013. The content of that lawsuit was that the employees of Apple stores had not been paid for a time, and that store managers were searching in the employees’ bags for stolen items, and that “these procedures give the impression that Apple neither trusts nor respects its workers.”

It is unknown whether the company changed its policy even though it faced several issues related to the employees’ conditions, the most important of which is the workers' exhaustion for hours without giving them breaks.