There have been several leaks of the new Apple iPhone 6 parts in the past weeks. Things like the 4.7-inch Sapphire glass screens and the new Lightning double-sided USB cable have been tweeted, some already with reviews of function and capabilities. But behind all of these new parts is a massive Chinese labor force.
The working conditions, known for years to be under-regulated, have recently made headlines again. Yet another round of violations from Quanta has the technology giant promising changes just at the edge of a product roll out.
The Chinese factory Quanta is a major manufacturer of parts for Apple, most notably for the iPhone. Recent reports from China have found that Quanta has continued to violate their employee’s basic rights.
This is despite the fact that they should, for the last four years, have taken measures to fix their illegal practices.
After several worker suicides in 2010, Apple came under scrutiny for mistreatment of their supplier’s workforce. Then came another shocking report two years ago. Apple has since worked to address issues such as adherence to a 60-hour workweek and overtime limits.
In the wake of that poor 2012 report, Apple has cooperated with the FLA, the Fair Labor Association, in order to correct these grievances. Among these are health and safety issues like hazardous indoor conditions and unpaid sick leave.
In that 2012 report, 16 and 17 year old Changshu workers told the auditors they were being forced to work overtime, which is against local laws. Those workers have since been reassigned and are no longer in Apple’s production lines.
Though Apple is cooperating with the FLA in pressing reformed working conditions to Quanta’s factory, the issue lies with the Chinese company. There are only so many issues that can be solved from outside of the flawed Chinese labor system. Quanta may have written health and safety standards, but they are not adhering to those standards with any regularity.
One major violation is the indoor air quality. The workers are continuously exposed to dangerous chemicals used in the making of the iPhone and iPad parts. Without proper ventilation, the laborers are forced to breathe in these chemicals. The company Cupertino, manufacturer of the Sapphire glass screens for the new mobile devices, announced that they have banned the use of the chemicals known to cause leukemia, nerve damage, and other various side effects. With the obvious presence of poor safety regulations, ceasing the use of these chemicals will help keep Chinese workers from further harm.
Apple has been clear about the fact that they conduct periodic audits and inspections. Apple’s efforts to help raise the quality of working, and living, for the supplier’s labor force are a sign of, hopefully, positive changes to come.
Are the extra efforts now to improve worker’s health and safety a reaction to the Cupertino announcement? Surely. With the September release of the new iPhone, though, Apple will need all the good press, and happy workers, they can get.