On the day the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are trading hands from retailer to consumer, the subject of ethical working conditions has reared its head again. It’s not the first time Apple has had to deal with this and the company’s not the only one to face pressure from workers’ rights groups. There’s at least one startup that we know of, Fairphone, that has actively steered away from sourcing materials from and manufacturing devices in deplorable settings. Changes from Apple, however, would likely trend competitors toward similar moves.
That’s a trend the Hong Kong-based group Students & Scholars Against Misbehaviour (SACOM) want to start. It issued a report calling out Apple to “apply immediate measures to rectify exploitations in its supply chain.”
Undercover work and interviews with employees of touchscreen manufacturer Lens Technology revealed poorly maintained and potentially hazardous working environment, consecutive work days totaling a month with no time off, withheld wages and failure to pay for social security in three of the Chinese company’s factories. Lens Technology also provides touchscreens to Samsung and other OEMs. The company’s founder became the richest woman in China after its IPO on the Shenzhen stock market. Neither company has issued comment.
Earlier this year, clothing retailer Uniqlo made reforms to its policies after poor conditions were exposed in its suppliers’ factories by SACOM and other human rights groups. It’ll be interesting to see how the economics shift for the consumer (you) if any change is to be made.