Apple Supplier Workers: Grueling Conditions, Toxic Hazards

A report into the treatment of workers making iPhones for Apple claims that 90 workers were taken to hospital in May last year after a leak of chemicals including sulphur and phosphorous at a Catcher Technology factory in China.

Rights group China Labour Watch (CLW) details the incident in a report, published on Tuesday in association with the Guardian, into the treatment of workers primarily making products for Apple, in factories in Suqian, Jiangsu province.

The report reveals workers' claims that they are working long and grueling hours for inadequate pay, as well as being exposed to chemical hazards. Among the claims are that overtime worked is nearly double the level allowed under Chinese law; and that the plant discharges contaminated wastewater into the public drains.

The Catcher factories featured in the investigation produce items including the iPhone 8 metal frame and the keyboard case for MacBooks. Catcher also produces parts for other major technology brands, including Sony, IBM, Dell and HP.

Apple and Catcher both dispute the claims and say that workers were only taken to hospital after the gas leak as a precaution. A previous CLW investigation in 2014, which warned that workers were exposed to toxic chemicals, brought assurances from the tech companies that they expected suppliers to uphold the highest standards. But today Li Qiang, CLW's executive director, accused the company of new failings.

"Apple has recently said they respect Chinese law but Apple has, in reality, been selective about which laws they follow, especially in regards to labor and environmental protection laws. Apple need to uphold their claim of honoring Chinese law," he said.

And he added: "Catcher has been risking the health and safety of its workers as well as the local environment."

The CLW report included pay-slip evidence to show overtime in excess of 70 hours in a month --...

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