Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) has criticized Ri-Teng Computer Accessory, the assembler of the recently announced iPad Mini. SACOM says it has carried out several off-site interviews with workers at Ri-Teng's Shanghai factory. Last December, the facility experienced an explosion within its polishing division which is said to have injured 61 workers.
Ri-Teng's "poor record in workplace safety" is "rooted in the purchasing practice of Apple and in its ineffective monitoring system," SACOM stressed.
It stated that the workers who were interviewed mentioned an ongoing hazardous working environment at the Shanghai factory. Poor ventilation, dust-filled shops and poor protection from chemicals utilized by machine operators were referred to as the risks workers face. The labor group added that Apple's purported "negligence in enforcing labor rights standards" was "at the root" of the worrying work environment at Ri-Teng's factory.
A 21-year-old worker, surnamed Jiang, stated he's been working every single day for the last three months, without a day off, to assemble the iPad Mini.
A collection of complaints from workers follows:
"The working conditions here are trash, there's no need to bring it up. You can work for overtime for two days, but the company will only pay for one of them.""The smell is indescribable. It feels like there is smoke in the air.""I truly, truly regret working at the factory. I had just started working at the factory. I had only been there for over a month."
"To divert the public criticism about Apple's unethical labor practices, the company joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in January 2012. Apparently, Apple seeks to distance itself from the problems at its supplier factories. Nevertheless, Cupertino is not the victim of the scandals at its supplier factories. It is the root problem," SACOM said.
Apple "must raise the unit price and prolong the delivery time [of its products], so workers do not need to have excessive overtime to earn a living," it said. The group also requested Apple to press its China-based suppliers to enable workers to form unions.
SACOM continued on to state that Ri-Teng forces its staff to work excessive overtime schedules, which it doesn't offer any pay for. Other accusations include abusing sub-contractors, cheating on its contribution to workers' pension and health insurance funds, as well as giving student interns priority in terms of manufacturing work instead of training them first.
Another constantly scrutinized Apple supplier, Foxconn, had recently admitted to putting underage interns to work assembling iDevice products.