Apple accused of neglecting work safety

09:30, January 20, 2011      

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Dozens of Chinese environmental groups are accusing Apple of neglecting work safety standards, of labor abuses and of polluting the environment.

The result of this corporate malfeasance, they say, is that at least 200 manufacturing workers have become sick among Apple's subcontractors in eastern China.

A total of 36 non-governmental organizations, led by the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Friends of Nature, have dubbed Apple a "sweatshop brand," as "the company has based its mass production on its subcontractors, without proper protections in the workplace," according to a joint report that is due out today but was made available early to the Global Times.

The NGOs conducted a nine-month study on working conditions at seven of Apple's subcontractors in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

Ma Jun, director of the IPE, told the Global Times that they gathered statements from factory workers who said they were manufacturing components for Apple products, including at Lianjian Technology Co in Suzhou.

"We started to write to Apple in April about pollution problems by its subcontractors, but have barely received a response. Until recently, Apple asked us to provide evidence to prove Lianjian is one of Apple's suppliers," Ma said, criticizing Apple for being so secretive about its list of suppliers.

"If Apple does not disclose the information of its suppliers, nor responds actively to any query about its suppliers' bad behavior, then it is impossible to have any public supervision over its supply chain," Ma added.

An e-mail to Apple China spokeswoman Carolyn Wu Wednesday seeking comments received a response that the questions had been forwarded to a relevant department, but no further e-mails or calls were received by the company as of early this morning.

Apple says on its official website that it is "committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are made. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes."

A slew of suicides and suicide attempts at a complex of Apple's major contractor, Foxconn, made global headlines last year, with workers in the facilities claiming they were treated badly.

However, Foxconn responded by opening its doors to reporters to survey the facilities, saying the employees' claims were greatly exaggerated.

By Liu Linlin, Global Times
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