A China-based Apple supply partner has been accused of having poor and even hazardous conditions for its factory workers by a local non-profit watchdog.
Workers at Catcher Technology stand on their feet for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops, oftentimes handling toxic chemicals without proper protective clothing, advocacy group China Labor Watch alleged in a report on Tuesday. The report focused on conditions at a Catcher factory in Suqian, China — about six hours north of Shanghai.
Catcher manufactures iPhone casings and components for MacBooks. Rumors also claim that the company has been tapped to produce metal frames for an upcoming Apple AR headset.
- According to China Labor Watch, Catcher factory workers handle harmful chemical compounds without proper goggles or gloves to protect their hands or faces.
- During their routine work, cutting oil may splash into their eyes and soak into the cotton gloves they are provided — leading to skin irritation, China Labor Watch reported.
- The noise of cutting and blasting iPhone casings at the plant can reach up to 80 decibels. A level that, according to IAC acoustics, can lead to “possible damage” after eight hours of exposure.
- In addition, China Labor Watch found that the factory’s floors are a slip hazard due to being slick with oil, and that the facility’s cafeteria food has caused sickness when eaten.
Workers at the Catcher factory make a base salary of about $302.84 U.S. dollars a month, about $1.38 an hour at the typical 55 hours a week that staff works. The low wages, allegedly, allow Catcher to keep their profit margins high.
Catcher Technology said that “none of the claims are accurate” based on their own investigations in a statement provided on Wednesday.
Apple, for its part, told Bloomberg that it maintains its monitoring staff at the Suqian facility, but sent an additional auditing team to the factory after China Labor Watch’s allegations surfaced on Tuesday. After interviewing more than 150 workers, Apple announced that it “found no evidence that Catcher was” violating the company’s stringent supplier standards.
“We know our work is never done and we investigate each and every allegation that’s made,” an Apple spokeswoman said. “We remain dedicated to doing all we can to protect the workers in our supply chain.”
Of course, the sheer scale of said supply chain makes it incredibly difficult for Apple to properly monitor and enforce its standards, Bloomberg reported.
This certainly isn’t the first time that a prominent Apple supplier has been accused of providing poor conditions for its workers. Just this month, a suicide at a Foxconn plant reignited concerns over working conditions at the massive iPhone assembler.
In its 2016 supplier responsibility report, Apple said it conducted comprehensive audits of a record 705 sites across its supply chain. In the report, Apple said the number of high-performing suppliers jumped by 59 percent, while low-performing plants decreased by 31 percent.