Hong Kong-based labour group SACOM conducted an investigative research into labour conditions at the Huizhou factory of Apple supplier Biel Crystal, and discovered numerous labour abuses and violation of Chinese labour law. SACOM has published the investigation results in a new report 'Stains on iPhones' cover glass. Dehumanized Working Conditions of Biel Crystal for Apple's Products'. SACOM is urgently calling upon Biel Crystal and Apple to address the detected labour rights issues.
This summer, SACOM conducted an investigative research towards the labour condition in Hong Kong-owned Apple supplier – Biel Crystal’s Huizhou factory and discovered numerous labour abuses and violation of Chinese Labour Law. SACOM decided to publish the investigation result. SACOM has announced to file an official complaint with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). Monday 25 November, SACOM and other local labour NGOs went to protest at the Biel Crystal office and Apple flagship store in Hong Kong to call for ending the exploitation workers.
Download the full report here.
Biel Crystal, who started its business by producing glasses for watches, is one of the biggest suppliers of the world’s touchscreen cover glasses. It shares 60% of the total world’s supply. Its factories in Shenzhen and Huizhou produce annual revenue of around 30 billion Chinese Yuan and are hiring 80,000 workers. It supplies 60% of the total Apple products’ cover glasses as well as 20% of the total of Samsung products. HTC, Huawei, TCL, Lenovo, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Seiko are its clients. Biel Crystal is still supplying to 1/3 of European watches cover glasses.
However, behind this glorious achievement, SACOM investigation in this summer discovered the following labour rights abuses:
- Blank work contract: Workers complain about the factory asking to sign blank work contract and the factory ask worker to turn in their work contract copy when they resign. This keeps workers vulnerable to prove their working relation with the factory;
- Excessive working hours: Workers reflect they forced to sign a “voluntary overtime application form”. They have to work 11 hours every day, seven days a week during peak season. Only have a 24-hour break at the end of each month for shift change;
- Serious work injury: Workers reflect that work injuries are common in the factory and they could not get reasonable compensation from Biel Crystal as entitled by the Law;
- Military-style management: Workers complain about the unfair punitive system and massive use of security to control worker’s activities;
- Numerous suicides in the factory: It is reported that there are at least 5 suicides took place in the factory since 2011;
- Unpunctual wages: Workers accuse about the factory changing the wage day whenever suits them and do not follow the work contract clauses and conditions;
- Exploitation on workers’ social security rights: Huizhou municipal government accused Biel Crystal’s ignorance to enrol workers to social security system (Remark 1).
Even though Biel Crystal’s director Yeung Kin-man and his family have bought a few industrial buildings in Kwun Tong recently (Remark 2) and Biel Crystal is willing to give full financial support to the construction of the police bureau building of the Huiyang District, Huizhou City (Remark 3), Yeung is not willing to provide reasonable financial compensation to injured workers. Moreover, Biel Crystal’s Shenzhen factory has been fined by the Shenzhen municipal government for 3 continuous years of polluting the environment (Remark 4).
SACOM’s demands to Biel Crystal
- To establish work contract content with workers before signature;
- To provide adequate training, protection and health examination to workers on occupational health and safety;
- To perform regular check and maintenance on machines;
- To provide a living wage for all the workers so the workers do not have to earn a living from overtime work;
- To enrol all workers in the social security system within 30 days of their work as required by the Law;
- To inform workers clearly about their wages and social security status;
- To provide workers entitled benefit such as social security cards;
- To provide compensation and assistance to work injured workers according to the Regulation on Work-Related Injury Insurances;
- To reform their compulsory meal fee system;
- To explain the suicides occurred since 2011;
- To reform management methodology to respect workers’ dignity;
- To abolish stand operation and ensure workers can have
appropriate breaks regularly;
- To reform the existing unions and enable workers to select their representative in accordance with the Trade Union Law of China.
SACOM’s demands to Apple
- To urge Biel Crystal on the above demands;
- To comply with their respective codes of conduct;
- To ensure good communication between workers and the management at Apple suppliers and engage local labour organisations to make sure that working conditions improve.
- To provide consumers transparency and inform them about the steps they take to make improvements.
- According to the Huizhou municipal government’s “Announcement of violation on housing provident fund” in April 2013, Biel Crystal Manufactory (Huizhou) Company is listed as not yet registered for provident fund premium and its workers are not enrolled in the system. http://www.fzzfgjj.com/NewsView.aspx?InfoId=f8a847b5-b460-49ae-920e-9ce04b06c04c (in Chinese)
- Referring to Singtao Daily’s report on 29 August 2012. http://finance.sina.com.hk/news/-7829-5179462/1.html (in Chinese)
- Referring to Jinri Huiyang Wang. http://news.huiyang.gov.cn/html/7/2012-12-13/content-28173.html (in Chinese)
- Referring to the record on Public Environment Research Centre. http://www.ipe.org.cn/pollution/com_detail.aspx?id=642128 (in Chinese)
- http://www.ipe.org.cn/En/pollution/com_detail.aspx?id=682687 (in Chinese)
- http://www.szhec.gov.cn/xxgk/xxgkml/xxgk_4/xxgk_4_14/201304/t20130402_84535.html (in Chinese)