Just as Apple is setting up to announce its latest lineup of high-end devices, a bomb dropped. Not a Fukushima-style bomb, but reports that the company has violated labour laws in China. Foxconn, who is contracted to build iPhones, has been employing way more temporary workers than it’s allowed to according to Chinese law. And it is casting a pretty shady light on Apple.
A labour watchdog called China Labor Watch has had a keen eye on Apple’s labour practices and recently published a report detailing the violations Apple has accumulated. The nonprofit watchdog also revealed that workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou (the largest iPhone factory in the world, btw) are working extreme overtime hours in violation of local laws, in addition to the whole overuse-of-temp-workers deal.
Under China’s labour laws, temporary workers can only make up a maximum of 10 percent of any given company’s workforce. But, according to China Labor Watch, roughly 50 percent of workers at the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory are employed on a temporary basis. These employees are also making far less than what is needed to sustain a livelihood in the city of Zhengzhou.
Although this won’t directly affect the launch of the iPhone 11 and the new range of devices tomorrow (10 September), we’ll likely see some pushback from customers. Especially in China. This may create even more bad blood between the US and China as trade relations decline. We’ll have to wait and see what the outcome is here.