The sad truth about outsourcing production is that it’s not just about reduced prices for the production of items such as the iPhone 6s, it also allows workers to operate in conditions that wouldn’t be acceptable in the U.S. The problem is not unique to Apple and the iPhone 6s. Outsourcing by major U.S. corporations has been a feature of this generation. However, Apple and their flagship iPhone 6s, are huge brands and one of the most successful companies in the world. It’s hard to argue that record profits and booming demand for the iPhone 6s made on the back of worker suffering is right.
China Labor Watch, in the latest in a series of in-depth reports criticizing conditions at Apple’s iPhone 6s plant in China, operated by Pegatron Technology, exposes alleged “fraudulent documents” and a failure to comply with Chinese Law. The factory is reported to not even comply with Apple’s own rules for workers at the iPhone 6s plant.
“Since 2013, CLW has documented several cases of young workers dying suddenly and abnormally at Pegatron [iPhone 6s factory operator]. Safety violations, worker deaths, and serious injury have been documented time and again in Apple’s [iPhone 6s] supply chain. Yet today at Pegatron, a factory that has been targeted previously for safety concerns, workers still do not receive safety training or enjoy protective measures in line with Chinese law or even Apple’s code of conduct.”
Apple is not oblivious to the problems in their iPhone 6s supply chain, with the International Business Times reporting that in 2014, Tim Cook announced university-style training for their iPhone 6s manufacturing partners.
However, iPhone 6s workers are reported to not even have been informed of simple safety information such as the location of emergency exits at the iPhone 6s plant.
Manufacturing advanced electronics, such as the iPhone 6s, involves the use of numerous dangerous, toxic chemicals. The iPhone 6s, for example, requires the use of arsenic, hexavalent chromium, benzene, and mercury. The report claims that the undercover iPhone 6s worker was not given sufficient information about the nature of the hazardous chemicals.
Working conditions, hours, breaks, and the ability to even survive on the wages are criticized by the report into iPhones 6s production. C|net explains that Apple has, in recent years, been more successful at enforcing working standards at the iPhone 6s plant. Last year, they reported 92 percent of workers were compliant. However, the iPhone 6s launch led to a spike in demand, which saw one-quarter of workers forced into unacceptable working patterns.
The poor training and abundance of toxic chemicals at another iPhone 6s factory have led to a “spate of cancer deaths” according to the International Business Times. Thirteen young workers, all under 24, at the iPhone 6s plant, were said to have been diagnosed in 2014, with five having died from their cancers. Apple and Pegatron have yet to comment on the latest report into iPhone 6s working conditions and compliance with safety laws. In 2014, Foxconn, the owner of the iPhone 6 factory connected to the cancer scare, is reported to have claimed there is “no evidence” linking chemicals at the plant to cancer deaths.
Problems in the Apple iPhone 6s supply chain predate the latest rush to deliver the iPhone 6s on time, however. The Week reported, back in 2010, that a Foxconn plant had been blighted by a series of suicides with a tenth worker jumping from the top of the factory.
China Labor Watch claim that full compliance with the law and Apple’s own guidelines for the iPhone 6s manufacturing process would cost just 11 percent more. With brutal working conditions, dangerous chemicals and suicides endangering lives, perhaps Apple and iPhone 6s customers need to wonder if the savings are worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
[Photo by Stephen Lam/ Getty Images]