In response to Apple’s 10th Supplier Responsibility Progress Report in 2016, Dr. Jenny Chan shows the limits of corporate self-regulation in China and highlights the responsibility of governments, corporations, unions and public consumers in protecting workers rights in global supply chains.
Apple claims that its supplier code is ‘one of the strictest in the industry’ and that they scored a nearly 100% compliance with working hours. However, the requirements of Apple are lower than the national legal standards in China. In Chinese law, the maximum work week is 40 hours, while Apple has a maximum of 60 hours. According to several studies, Apple’s employees work even more than 60 hours a week and often, overtime work is compulsory.
Under pressure of Apple and other brands, suppliers are increasingly employing students as a cheap labor force. In this way, it is possible to lower the production costs while enhancing flexibility and increasing profits. Many employers work in unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, but effective grievance mechanisms or worker-representation are lacking.
Corporate self-regulation has its limits in raising labor standards in global supply chains. Governments, corporations, unions and public sector consumers have a key responsibility to protect the rights of workers in global supply chains.
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