Apple may be extremely adept at building an absolutely crystalline image for its own brand and products, but every now and then we come across news that reminds us of the poorer face of the gear that keeps the beautiful Ma running: the frequent accusations of irregular, child or even slave labor in the company's partners in China.
Today the CNN reported that the Cupertino giant was investigating allegations that one of its most important partners was illegally employing students at one of its factories in China. The supplier in question How much, which until last year was the sole maker of the Apple Watch and is still responsible for manufacturing a large part of Ma's watches sold worldwide.
The accusations come from a Hong Kong-based labor rights group, the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM). According to the report, elementary / high school students were found working on the production lines of a Quanta factory in Chongqing; they would be being forced by their schools to participate in internships that would have nothing to do with their areas of study, working for an excessive amount of hours (sometimes even at night).
SACOM interviewed 28 students to prepare the report. In the words of one of them:
We are like robots on the production lines. We repeat the same procedure hundreds or thousands of times every day.
Chinese labor law allows minors to work, while respecting a number of rules that have been circumvented in the cases described by the report. Apple itself also specifies rules for the work of minors in its partners' employment relationship guidelines (PDF), all of which are allegedly disrespected by Quanta on these production lines.
In a statement sent CNN, Apple said it is aware of the problem and taking action:
We are urgently investigating the report that student interns hired in September would be working overtime and night hours. We have zero tolerance for companies that do not meet our standards and we guarantee immediate, with appropriate solutions, if we discover violations of the code.
Ma completed, stating that she had already audited the Quanta factory in Chongqing three times between March and June, without registering anomalies. Quanta, for its part, has denied the accusations and is working with Apple on the investigations.