Beginning on August 3, hundreds of workers at the Kesheng Technology factory in Suzhou, China protested after learning that the company planned to move operations without giving workers reasonable compensation. Kesheng, a major supplier of product casings to Apple, is a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Catcher Technology.
Workers marched with banners in the factory complex. One banner read, “Punish Apple Inc’s supplier factory, the Suzhou subsidiary of Catcher Group, for cheating migrant workers of their hard-earned money.”
Many workers posting photos online expressed anger not only at the company, but also at public security for taking the side of the company and violently suppressing workers.
When workers refused to accept the company’s offer, public security were called out in force, leading to direct conflict with workers. A number of workers were injured or detained.
China Labor Watch (CLW) has investigated the Catcher manufacturing facilities in Suzhou and nearby Suqian four times since 2011, each investigation discovering a range of labor rights and environmental abuses. For instance, at a Suzhou Catcher plant in 2012, workers were made to sign blank labor contracts and do 10.5 to 11-hour workdays, sometimes without a day of rest for weeks. In both the Suzhou and Suqian factories, workers producing Apple products’ metal casings were surrounded by flammable dust and came into contact with other dangerous chemicals. Despite this, workers received practically no safety training.
In March of this year, a fire occurred in Catcher’s Kesheng factory. In 2012, at least five workers at the factory were poisoned in the waste water treatment room, leading to at least one death. The factory has also been exposed as recently as 2013 for severe environmental pollution and was listed in 2011 as one of the most polluting companies in Suzhou by the environmental protection department. CLW’s investigative reports, noted above, also found evidence of waste water being directly discharged into local water sources.
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