Human Rights Group Alleges Apple’s Supplier Using Forced Labor in China

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 29 Dec 2020

Lately, Apple suppliers and manufacturers are running into a lot of troubles. After Wistrons India debacle, a new report claims iPhone supplier in China forced Muslim labor to work in its factories.

Tech Transparency Project shared the document with The Washington Post. It details how Uighur Muslims from Xinjiang are forced to work for a company called Lens. The company also supplies to other major tech companies like Amazon and Tesla. Lens Technology is not the only company from Apple’s supply chain to be involved in forced labor. According to the human rights group, Lens Technology is getting all the attention owing to its high-profile founder.

The documents, discovered by the Tech Transparency Project and shared exclusively with The Washington Post, detail how thousands of Uighur workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang were sent to work for Lens Technology. Lens also supplies Amazon and Tesla, according to its annual report.

Expectedly the Chinese authorities refuted claims and said forced labor is “nonexistent,” and auditors hired by the authorities confirm the same. Meanwhile, Tesla and Amazon are yet to comment.

Apple Refutes the claims.

Apple has denied “labor transfers of Uighur workers from Xinjiang.” Apple maintains it has sufficient checks to detect forced labor and other such malpractices.

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock said the company has confirmed that Lens Technology has not received any labor transfers of Uighur workers from Xinjiang. He said Apple earlier this year ensured that none of its other suppliers are using Uighur labor transferred from Xinjiang.

Rosenstock added, “Apple has zero-tolerance for forced labor.”

Looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every supplier assessment we conduct, including surprise audits. These protections apply across the supply chain, regardless of a person’s job or location. Any violation of our policies has immediate consequences, including possible business termination. As always, our focus is on making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and we will continue doing all we can to protect workers in our supply chain.

Our Take

Apple supplier Wistron faced the wrath of the employees who wrecked the facility and caused damages. The workers claimed Wistron had delayed payment of salaries and flouted suppliers’ guidelines. That said, Apple took action and stopped giving out new orders to Wistron.

Human Rights Group alleges Uighur workers transferred from Xinjiang are forced into labor. In other words, if they do not agree to work, then they are sent to detention centers.

[via The Washington Post]