On the day that the iPhone 6s and 6s plus launched, a non profit labor rights group founded in Hong Kong, accused one of Apple’s suppliers in China of exploiting their factory workers. Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) said that Lens Technology, the supplier that provides Apple with touchscreen glass, was forcing overtime hours, withholding wages, and endangering the health of their workers in three different factories. As the phone entered the market, SACOM called for Apple to “apply immediate measures to rectify exploitations in its supply chain”. The official statement from SACOM read as follows: “We urge Apple Inc. to fulfill its corporate responsibility…to give workers a workplace with dignity and respect”.
The official allegations were made after undercover workers were sent into factories and interviewed workers off-site. SACOM said that employees have worked for a month straight without pay, that their wages were held for weeks, and that the company is failing to pay social security. Further problems in the factories include dust, polluted water, and chemical substances which are common on the floor while management ignores whether or not their workers are properly protected. Based on these allegations, a few protesters gathered outside of one of Apple’s largest stores in Hong Kong Friday morning with giant iPhones with the slogan “Throw Away The Bad Apple” written on them.
What is ironic is that the founder of Lens Technology was a former factory worker herself and is now the richest woman in China since the company entered the Shenzhen stock exchange in March. However, the company denied the allegations saying that overtime is not mandatory and is limited two hours a day, workers have at least one rest day per week, and that it carries out regular inspections of the working environment. The supplier also denied failing to pay social security. In am email to Hong Kong AFP, the company said that “Lens Technology is a listed public company and has always complied with the laws and regulations, as well as strictly following the parameters set by our clients”.
The majority of people that ordered the new iPhone were oblivious to the allegations. As of yet, Apple has not been available for comment. Lens Technology also supplies Samsung and other leading tech firms and SACOM says it is not only targeting Apple, but as the richest firm, SACOM knows it has the biggest ability to “make change and bring the industry forward”.