| Sept 4
Sept 4 Working conditions at a Chinese factory
supplying parts for Apple Inc iPads and MacBooks are
dangerous and have even deteriorated since they were highlighted
a year ago, two labour watchdogs said on Thursday.
Apple, however, said many of the problems were corrected
after an inspection last week.
U.S.-based China Labor Watch and Green America said in a
joint statement that an investigation last month at Catcher
Technology Co Ltd (Suqian), part of Taiwan-based Catcher
Technology Co Ltd, had found hazardous working
conditions, with flammable aluminium-magnesium alloy filings
scattered on the factory floor, and fire exits and windows
Workers did not receive proper safety training and were
exposed to toxic chemicals as they were not provided with
protective equipment "in a timely manner or at all," the groups
A 25-page report on the factory investigation, the latest of
several to criticize Apple suppliers over recent years, comes
just before the expected launch on Tuesday of the new iPhone 6.
Apple has also come under fire this week for lax security
systems after photos of celebrities stored in individual iCloud
accounts were leaked online.
China Labor Watch investigated the same factory in 2013 and
found multiple labour rights and safety violations. It said
Apple had then promised reforms by Catcher to improve
conditions, but the companies had not delivered.
"In fact, the investigator going into the factory in 2014
discovered numerous additional violations that weren't found in
2013, as well as repeat violations from year to year, suggesting
that conditions may actually be getting worse in the factory,"
the groups said in their report.
In a brief emailed statement, Catcher said: "We are deeply
concerned about the claims made by China Labor Watch, and we
take the report very seriously. We are committed to following
Apple's supplier code of conduct and will investigate
In a separate statement, Apple praised the Suqian facility
for consistently exceeding international safety standards.
"As a result of our quarterly fire-safety inspections, the
most recent of which happened last week, Catcher has made
same-day repairs of broken and expired fire extinguishers,
unblocked corridors and fire exits, and added missing emergency
exit signs," the statement said.
Apple said its annual audit in May had found "some concrete
areas for improvement" at the factory, and it worked with
Catcher on a plan to correct them.
"We had scheduled a follow-up visit next month to review
their progress but have dispatched a team there immediately to
investigate this report," Apple said.
In previous reports on Apple's China-based supply chain,
factories owned by Taiwan's Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai
Precision Industry, were accused of mistreating
workers, particularly after a string of employee suicides. In
2011, three people died in a combustible dust explosion at a
Foxconn facility in Chengdu, China.
Factory safety has come under close scrutiny in China
following an explosion that killed 75 people at an auto parts
plant in the eastern province of Jiangsu last month. The blast,
which also injured 185 people, occurred when a flame was lit in
a room filled with metal dust at the factory, which supplied
parts for General Motors Co and other automakers.
After the explosion, China suspended work at more than 200
factories in Jiangsu province, home to Catcher Technology's
Suqian facility, for safety checks as part of a nationwide
The watchdogs' report said that after last month's Jiangsu
explosion, supervisors at Catcher had specifically mentioned the
high flammability of the plant's aluminium-magnesium alloy and
the need to take precautions to prevent fires.
"But, after this announcement, no new measures were taken to
improve fire prevention or worker safety," the report said.
(Additional reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Ian Geoghegan
and Lisa Von Ahn)