SACOM published a new report Apple Watch Series 4: Still Failed to Protect Teenage Student Workers. In summer 2018, this in-depth re-visiting investigation was conducted as a follow up after the report Apple Watch 3 in 2017. The new report reveals that Apple has been employing students to assemble Apple Watches in the Chinese city of Chongqing and that the working conditions for these student interns in the factory do not comply with the standards and regulations.

In 2017, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) published the investigative report “Apple Watch 3 – Exploit Student Workers Further. An Investigative Report on Apple Watch’s Exclusive Manufacturer” disclosing Apple’s plan to relocate the Apple Watch production to Quanta Computer’s Chongqing factory and the student workers violations found in it. After the releasing of the report, both Apple and Quanta denied the production relationship between them. In summer 2018, a further in-depth re-visiting investigation was conducted.

The report Apple Watch Series 4: Still Failed to Protect Teenage Student Workers discloses that Apple Inc. is undoubtedly manufacturing Apple Watch in Quanta Chongqing facilities using significant numbers of student workers aged 16-19 years. It also reveals that working conditions for student interns in the factory do not comply with the “Administrative Provisions Regarding Internships for Vocational School Students” issued by the Chinese government and the “Student Worker Protections” explicated in Apple’s “Supplier Responsibility Standards”.

Major findings in 2018

Since the releasing of the 2017 report, the violations found have barely been corrected. The major findings of the re-visiting investigation for 2018 are outlined below:

  1. Irrelevant Majors: Students majoring in subjects unrelated to the electronics industry are still being sent to work as ordinary production line workers. The majors include e-commerce, makeup and hair beauty, early education, hotel management etc.
  2. Absence of educational elements: Students reported that the internships have literally nothing to do with learning. None of the learning documents required by the law are prepared for the students.
  3. Forced labour: Students reported that they cannot receive their graduation certificate without performing the compulsory internship. Schools also pressure students’ parents to make the students work.
  4. Unlawful shift arrangements: It is very common for student interns at Quanta to work 12 hours a day and night shifts, both of which is in violation of local regulations.
  5. Unlawful Recruitment: Students in their year 1 of enrollment are also sent to the factory to work, which is in violation of local regulations.

Author of this article and the report is SACOM.