What Price To Pay For The New iPhone?

With the introduction of the new iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the iWatch yesterday, Apple is once again breaking new grounds. In reality, as Apple has worked endlessly to ensure the launch of its products on the keynote date, they also face new accusations over human rights andlabor and safety violations at a factory run by Apple and its supplier, Catcher Technology in Suqian, China.

According to an undercover investigation conducted in August of 2014 by China Labor Watch (CLW) and Green America, Catcher Technology is exploiting its employees to various human rights violations, including excessive work hours and hazardous health conditions. Other violations include: locked safety exits; improper protection for handling hazardous materials; and “a grievance process that retaliates against workers for raising valid workplace issues.” Employees were also forced to consistently work overtime without any pay.

Apple has responded to the investigate report by sending a team to investigate the allegations of the report. They have already instilled regulations to keep fire exits unblocked and to limit working hours to sixty hours a week. Although Apple has responded rather quickly to the report, Apple should have been more vigilant over Catcher Technology, as this is not the first time it faces such allegations. An investigation conducted in April of 2013 yielded similar violations; at the time of the incident, Apple and Catcher Technology instilled solutions to the violations.

Analysts at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch “expect the release of the iPhone 6 to add roughly 1 percent a month to China’s export growth rate for the rest of this year.” With a highly expected, almost given, sales return, what financial and legal duty does Apple have to ensure compliance with human rights, labor, and safety laws? How can the role of a major investment company, like Apple, influence other companies, who are less inclined to regard human rights, to comply with international labor and employment standards and laws? Since these new allegations will most likely not affect the sales of the iPhone, what does this say about the materialistic society we have become?

Sources: Green America: An Investigative Report of Catcher Technology Co. Ltd (Suqian), an Apple Parts Manufacturer;  China Labor Watch Press ReleaseWSJ: Report Alleges Labor Violations at Apple Supplier in China (Sept. 4, 2014)NYT

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5 comments

  1. I agree, it is so sad that as a society we often purchase material possessions that we find necessary in keeping us up-to-date with modern trends, without ever considering the hard work and effort put into creating these items. Upon a simple Google search of Apple’s Labor laws, I found the first statement on the top of the Apple page asserts, “all over the world, we’re expanding opportunities for workers and ensuring that they’re treated with respect and dignity.” There appears to be a clear contradiction between what Apple is saying, and what is actually happening regarding its international employees. This situation speaks to the common gap between creating human rights laws and actually enforcing them.
    Apple should come down hard on those who are responsible for these inhumane work conditions. As such a major international company, a duty to ensure human rights should be recognized. Apple should also have a duty to compensate these under-paid employees, and be compelled to see that working conditions are regularly under the microscope. If there are no harsh consequences, then other companies may follow suit in cutting corners, and disregarding employee rights.

  2. I agree, it is so sad that as a society we often purchase material possessions that we find necessary in keeping us up-to-date with modern trends, without ever considering the hard work and effort put into creating these items. Upon a simple Google search of Apple Labor laws, I found the first statement on the top of the Apple page asserts, “all over the world, we’re expanding opportunities for workers and ensuring that they’re treated with respect and dignity.” There appears to be a clear contradiction between what Apple is saying, and what is actually happening regarding its international employees. This situation speaks to the common gap between creating human rights laws and actually enforcing them.

    Apple should come down hard on those who are responsible for these inhumane work conditions; as such a major international company, they should recognize the legal duty to ensure human rights. Apple should also have a duty to compensate these under-paid employees, and be compelled to see that working conditions are regularly under the microscope. If there are no consequences, then other companies will follow suit in cutting corners, and disregarding employee rights.

  3. This is not the first time that we have seen Apple in this position. It seems that time and time again they have been caught violating labor and safety laws. In order for them to stay on top in the technology industry, they overwork their employees and pay them very little compensation. Apple should be acting as a role model for other tech companies. As one of the largest investment companies in the world, they have major influence over the industry. Apple could help in promoting international labor standards by setting an example. Apple certainly has the resources available to pay their employees substantial salaries, as well as overtime pay. If they start a trend within the industry that grants their employees with higher labor standards, it could ensure compliance with human rights, labor, and safety laws throughout the world.

    The society we live in today does not help the situation either. People always need to have the newest model phone or tablet. We live in a world of status and I do not think that is going to change anytime soon. Apple has the ability to make a change though; they have the resources to make a change.

  4. It seems as though Apple is still continuing to exploit its workforce abroad as in 2011, approximately 137 workers had been seriously injured at a factory in China by a toxic chemical used in making the signature glass screens of the iPhone. This was just one example of a core violation of worker safety by Apple who had pledged to monitor the safety conditions of its workers as a result of the release of this toxic chemical. However, about a dozen employees reported that they never heard from anyone at Apple, but instead were pressed to resign and accept cash settlements by the Taiwanese owned company Wintek.

    Yet again, we are still seeing violations of worker safety in producing the iPhone currently, which leads me to wonder why Apple is not taking a greater initiative to monitor safety conditions for its workers. As Apple is such a renowned and influential company, they need to set a better example for companies now and those in the future. Workers at a company as prestigious as Apple should not be paid such stark wages and have to fear such hazardous working conditions. Living in such a materialistic society, which craves the newest and best technology is putting intense pressure on companies such as Apple to overwork their workers to supply our society’s demand for the next “hot” product. However, Apple needs to do a better job of supplying their products without hurting its workforce.

    Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/technology/23apple.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  5. Our society has become very materialistic and depends so much on technology today. People count on their phones to keep them in touch with friends and love ones. However, it is important that people realize all the hard work it takes to create these phones. People want the newest technology but they do not consider the excessive work hours and hazardous health conditions that employees have to deal with each day in order to create these devices.

    Apple is a huge company and has the power to set the standard. A lot of companies look up to Apple because it is one of the largest investment companies out there. Thus, Apple should use its power to break down on those who are breaking these labor and human right laws. Apple needs to set the standard for these other companies and influence them to comply with international labor laws and employment standards. It is important for these other companies to see a huge company like Apple complying with these laws. Apple does have the power and should use it to help enforce and influence better working and health conditions.

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