Apple Supplier Accused Of Labor Violations

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Apple Inc. NASDAQ:AAPL’s suppliers just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. This time, it’s Taiwan-based Catcher Technology Co., Ltd. TPE:2474, although it involves one of the company’s factories in China. The plant is located in eastern China in the city of Suqian.

Another Apple supplier under fire

Catcher Technology makes casing for Apple’s iPad and other consumer electronic devices. Currently, the factory in question is said to be working on aluminum casings for a new iPad and some parts for the iPhone 5. According to The New York Times, Green America, an environmental watchdog, and China Labor Watch, a workers’ rights group, have released a new report today focusing on Catcher Technology. The two organizations say the company forces employees to work a lot of overtime. Thy also accuse Catcher of not providing the proper protective gear for workers who handle toxic chemicals.

Of course this isn’t the first time one of Apple’s suppliers has been accused of work force violations. Organizations have frequently scrutinized the Asian operations of its suppliers. Apple uses about 200 major suppliers for approximately 97% of its component costs. Pegatron Corporation TPE:4938 OTCMKTS:PGTRF and others have also ignited the ire of watchdog groups in the past.

Apple finds areas for improvement

Today’s report indicates that Apple might need to become more vigilant in watching over the companies that are further down on its supply chain. The company released a statement today saying that it had “found some concrete areas for improvement” in its latest annual audit of Catcher’s plant in Suqian. Apple added that it has already worked with the supplier to “develop a corrective action plan.”

The company had already been planning to revisit the factory next month. However, that plan has apparently been moved up, as Apple has immediately sent a team to look into the allegations that are raised by the report.

Details on the investigation’s findings

China Labor Watch reportedly investigated the Suqian factory last month. They found locked fire exits and air filled with flammable aluminum-magnesium alloy dust and shavings. They also found the dust and shavings all over the floors in some of the workshops at the factory.

In addition, investigators learned that some employees were required to work up to 100 hours of overtime every month. They also allegedly did not receive the social insurance payments the company must pay under Chinese law. Investigators also said that Catcher required employees to sign forms stating that they had finished the required safety training even though they did not receive any training in safety procedures.

This year’s findings follow concerns raised by China Labor Watch privately last year with Apple. The group said Apple conducted its own audit of the facility and later said that Catcher would make some changes, particularly those needed to insure safety for workers.

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