How accurate are Apple's critics? Latest report on Apple's supply chain raises questions

The Apple logo is displayed on the exterior of an Apple Store on April 23, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.

China Labor Watch, a New-York based labor monitor, reports Chinese factories run by Apple supplier Pegatron are worse than Foxconn. The report, released on Monday, says three factories in Shanghai run by Pegatron totaled 36 legal violations, including excessive overtime, insufficient training, and underage workers.

Shanghai-based author and Bloomberg columnist Adam Minter has visited more than a hundred Chinese factories. He says the mainstream media haven’t bothered to take a critical look at this report.

"The most glaring example in this report was a section header labeled: 'Child Labor and Underage Employees,' but nowhere in the report does it actually report child labor occurring at these factories," says Minter.

"We did not find direct evidence of child labor as defined in China as under 16," admits Kevin Slaten, spokesman for China Labor Watch.

He says the investigation found workers between the ages of 16 and 18 did not receive "special protection" at Pegatron as required by Chinese law, yet neither he nor the report failed to provide any examples.

"What we’re really trying to highlight in this report: Apple is a leader and we hope that they can meet the standards that they profess," says Slaten.

Those standards are currently under investigation by the Fair Labor Association, an auditor that Apple brought on last year.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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