Apple, Samsung supplier abuses workers' rights, group claims

Biel Crystal Manufactory -- which counts Apple, Samsung, HTC, and others as clients -- violates workers' rights, a Hong Kong rights group claims.

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Screen supplier Biel Crystal Manufactory has been accused of violating workers' rights within its Chinese factories.

The manufacturer, which supplies iPhone screens to tech giant Apple, allegedly abuses its workers in a number of ways. According to a report by the Students Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), employees are forced to work 11-hour shifts with only a single day off each month.

SACOM's research was conducted through 60 off-site interviews and an undercover investigation. Biel Crystal Manufactory, one of the largest producers of glass for mobile devices in the world, accounts for 60 percent of Apple's glass supply and 20 percent of that of Samsung. HTC, Nokia, and Lenovo are also clients, SACOM claims.

Iao Qiu (name changed to keep the worker anonymous) from the Quality Check Department told the group:

"Biel has a lot of orders from Apple and Samsung. There's no such thing as peak or non-peak seasons in the factory. Almost every month is a peak season, and we just work and work. We have to work three hours overtime every day from Mondays to Fridays, and we work another two full days (meaning 11 hours per day) on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no break at all until we shift duty at the end of each month."

In addition, the Hong Kong-based rights group also claims that safety standards are not up to par. Employees of Biel Crystal Manufactory often become injured in the workplace and then are denied compensation. Employees also are fined or fired for failing to reach production targets or for falling asleep or breaking glass.

Workers are made to sign a blank contract, the rights group says, which must be handed in when they resign -- which means no tie between employee and employer exists, potentially preventing future lawsuits relating to the company.

At the firm's Guangdong factory in China -- one of two in mainland China -- at least five workers have committed suicide in the past three years, the report claims.

In a statement to Reuters, Apple said in response to the report:

"We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Every year, Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2012, we conducted 393 audits at supplier facilities around the world."

Biel Crystal Manufactory employs more than 60,000 workers, 40,000 of which are stationed at Guangdong.

This story originally appeared as "Apple screen supplier accused of violating worker rights" on ZDNet.

 

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