back to article Apple supplier's '11-hours-a-day' toilers have '1 day off a month'

A Hong Kong rights group has accused supplier Biel Crystal of mistreating workers who are making touchscreens for Apple, Samsung and other smartphone makers. The Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) released a report which claimed that Biel was forcing employees to work 11-hour shifts, seven days a week …


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  1. Chad H.

    Why "Apple" in the headlines? Not Apple employees, and the contractor isn't exclusive to Apple....

    1. El_Fev

      I love the register, but they go bloody close to libel someday's!

    2. xpert_con

      Re: Why "Apple"

      Because Chad. " Apple, Samsung and other Smartphone supplier's '11-hours-a-day' toilers have '1 day off a month' doesn't sound as catchy. Plus Apple are the ethical ones who never treat people badly... right?

      1. Mtech25

        Re: Why "Apple"

        I love the fact that this article instantly cause outrage…. mainly because Apple is mentioned in the title and not because of the labour conditions of a Chinese factory.

      2. jof62

        Re: Why "Apple"


    3. Neil 38

      For the same reason more and more articles in the right hand panel have thumbnails of scantily clad women which bear no relevance to the story within.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Why don't I get the scantilly clad women, I've got lara Croft, Tom Baker, a latex clad lady and Wolfie Smith... and some other stuff

  2. tkioz

    And they claim slavery is dead...

    1. Don Jefe

      Shit. Slavery is alive and well and even costs less than it did in the 19th century. Yay for zero upfront cost, corporate barracks and clothing and meal salary deductions!

      Bad working conditions are a very real problem and it's a global thing. It isn't just underdeveloped countries. But what really pisses me off is that it's always the big brand name products/companies that catch all the heat. The big time places that get singled out are generally orders of magnitude better than the places that turn out low end or commodity products.

      It's really easy for people to target Apple or Samsung all the while willfully ignoring the truly horrendous working conditions of the people who harvested the wool and silk in their clothes, picked the banana they had for breakfast and gathered the beans they used for their coffee.

      Hell, the apple sauce and apple juice their kids are drinking were made from products harvested in some of the worst conditions imaginable. I will bet $1000 that at least 50% of the El Reg readership can't lift a bushel crate of apples, much less scamper up and down a 6" wide fruit ladder carrying a full crate with one arm. I bet $5000 less than 5% can do it with a broken arm. We expect immigrant workers in the US to do that and far worse every day. All so Jr can have cheap juice. In one just county in Virginia almost 30,000 transient migrants are brought in every year to harvest apples. There was only one fatality this year too! So safety is up...

      People will light into a consumer electronics manufacturer and everybody applauds. It sure wouldn't be that way if people started bitching about apples. Even legal temporary visa holders get screwed. They're paid a minimum wage equivalent (production + the difference to meet minimum wage) but their shelter, transportation, food and clothing are deducted. It comes out to ~$40 day for non-stop sunup to sundown labor. Nobody gives a shit though, their juice is cheap.

      1. tkioz

        Interesting facts, now, as in 2013, is the time when the lowest percentage of human beings are in bondage ever.

        Now for the depressing part, it's also the time of the greatest raw number of slaves in human history. Almost thirty million, and that's a conservative estimate, only counting 'recognised' slaves, such as sex slaves and those in enforced servitude.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ever actually pick an apple?

        As someone who spent my childhood scurrying up and down ladders picking apples in my grandfather's orchard, I'd have to say you don't know what you're talking about. First, nobody carries crates up ladders to pick apples. Pickers wear apple picking bags to do the picking. Think of an over-sized front baby carrier harness with a big bag on the front that loads from the top and can be unclipped to unload out the bottom into a crate that stays on the ground. The crates are used for transport and storage, not picking.

        As a kid I also hauled plenty of crates around the orchard, as did my siblings. They're not that heavy. Any reader who can juggle an awkward large flat screen TV could move apple crates.

        Finally, modern orchards are well into transitioning into using mini and dwarf size trees, simply to eliminate the time consuming hassle of moving and climbing ladders.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: ever actually pick an apple?

          Either you grew up on a tiny operation or a feel good gentleman's orchard. The larger operations here in Virginia all send the Mexicans, Haitians and Jamaicans up with the empty crates and down with the full crates. The harnesses you're talking about are only used at the 'Pick Your Own' orchards where rich white people go to 'connect with their food'.

          I pick on the apple industry because I'm surrounded by it. My neighbor is a 150+ acre orchard and my wife volunteers as a translator every season with the 'special populations' branch at the local hospital. They go out, on Federal and State grant money and provide healthcare to the thousands of migrants doing the very work you say doesn't happen.

          So enjoy your gentleman's mini-farms and ultra rare dwarf trees. I can assure you the rest of the industry will carry on doing it the hard way.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    need to know

    it's a useful concept. They didn't know. If proven accurate, they would be deeply concerned given [here enter the bullshit about how great their track record of sustainable manufacturing is]. They will investigate. They will re-consider (if the outcome of their own, independent inquiry...). Thanks, bye, next story.

    Who are "they"? Oh, Apple, Samsung, whoever. Ultimately - you and me, who buy this or that toy.

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    Every day,

    a little bit of me dies knowing that the world is fucked.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      For evil to triumph it only takes no good man to stand up.

      1. Don Jefe

        Evil/bad things have never really been the problem in anything. It is apathy that allows those things to happen and continue.

        The 'it doesn't impact me' argument has always been rather lame, but in the past it was a far more justifiable attitude to have. Chances were things 'over there' didn't impact you and there was nothing you could do anyway. But that's changing.

        It is hypocritical in the extreme to benefit from the 'low, low prices' from globalization and not improve the lives of those who make such prices possible. It's also dangerous. Getting cheap oil from Iran then sending them back plastics at enormous margins is what led to the oil embargo and the ongoing unstable situation over there.

        1. JP19

          "It is hypocritical in the extreme to benefit from the 'low, low prices' from globalization and not improve the lives of those who make such prices possible."

          Their lives are being improved. What people don't understand is how incredibly shit the alternative to working 11 hour days in a sweat shop is for most of them. Ponces walking round with their iThings seem to think they have been torn away from some idyllic life in the countryside to slave in these factories. It isn't that long since 40 million Chinese died of starvation.

          1. Don Jefe

            I used to think like that, I managed my life and business with the assumption that I was the benevolent giver of money and those poor people should be grateful for whatever I doled out. But then I got older and my commercial interests took me to the places where 'stuff' comes from and I knew I was wrong.

            The execs and their equivalents certainly are seeing their lives improved, but not the average worker. Their quality of life is actually worse than it was before. Within the last 30 years subsistence farming has basically been eliminated. Collusion between government and corporate interests have seen all the farm land seized/purchased and the traditional farmer is forced to work in horrible conditions simply because all other options for survival have been bought up. It's work in the conditions we dictate, live in the shelters we provide and eat the food we provide or die. That's your option, do it or die.

            So your food and job were taken away, you were thrown off your land and your house was razed and your family was sent to a new settlement outside the farming area and you're allowed to visit them once every couple of weeks. Some people do get lucky though. A foreman or field supervisor might get to stay in their home, and they'll get to pay rent that's calculated based on the wages of all the adults (generally 14+ years) who live in the house. A house that was built and paid for generations ago.

            Once you calculate the trade value of the goods they used to produce their wages have actually been reduced and they're removed from their families and live in communal Quonset huts the 28 days of the month they're made to stay on the company grounds.

            It is extraordinarily arrogant for us to think we're improving the lives of the people who make all our stuff. It's attitudes like yours that keep the awfulness going at full speed. It's going on all over China, Russia, Africa and South America. It isn't isolated and it's a HUGE issue. Millions of people are effected and they're worse off than they were before we 'gave them our money'.

            1. JP19

              "Millions of people are effected and they're worse off than they were before we 'gave them our money'."

              Yep, just look at North Korea for an example of how great things can be.

  5. i like crisps


    I hope that there is adequate ventilation in those factories considering

    the amount of GLUE Apple now use's in its products.

  6. Silver

    It's nice that they spoke to Apple and asked for them to sort out the problem.

    How come Samsung, HTC, Nokia, LG and Motorola don't seem to have to do anything?

  7. Bryan Maguire

    given china has a suicide rate of 22 people per 100,000 annually (source from wikipedia) the company should be applauded on achieving a rate of 5 per 80,000 workers in 2 years. they are obviously working hard to improve their employees mental health.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the big deal?

    Don't they know their work entitles Tim Cook to receive $700 Million in annual compensation. They should be thankful that they are being exploited by Tim Cook and Apple. Why treat people like humans if Tim Cook would have to "suffer" with only $50 million a year in annual compensation? We all know that poor Tim deserves at least $700 Million per year, right? What good are Chines slaves if Tim Cook and Apple, Microsucks, Acer et al can't abuse and exploit them?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: What's the big deal?

      He doesn't get anything like that. That's the total of his stock bonus of 1 million shares, half vesting in 2016 and the other half vesting in 2021, based on a $700 share price. If they all vested today, he'd get a one time sum of $535 million. It isn't annual.

      Why not talk about how much Samsung's CEO earns, since Samsung buys glass from this company too?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But how far do they have to walk every day?

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    And just

    remember the price difference if the iPhone and its parts were made in the evil capitalist west


    Just think... all those unskilled unemployed we have could have jobs , yes , shit ones.

    But getting an iPhone/Galaxy phone for £400 over 24 months is sooooooooooooo much better than paying £425 over the same time.

  11. btrower

    Coming to a theater near you

    Looking at the shattered remains of Detroit, the shambles of the Union movement, the gutting of our industrial infrastructure and rising unemployment ... you might want to get on board changing these working conditions before we import them back here. We have too many people unemployed or underemployed and other people working so much that they never see their families and don't really have a life.

    This will continue as long as its architects remain in power. We need to sweep them out of the way.

  12. Gannon (J.) Dick

    1 Day Off A Month

    "Apple said in an emailed statement that it cared about all its workers and would continue to inspect supplier factories."

    Quality products and terrible working conditions do not both "just happen" concurrently.

    Apple is singled out among many because because their PR Department is unparalleled in disingenuous bullshit propagation. There is no more sinister reason.

  13. codeusirae

    Hong Kong-owned Apple supplier?

    "SACOM conducted an investigative research towards the labour condition in Hong Kong-owned Apple supplier" .. and Christian Dior, Citizen, Cvstos, Franck Muller, Gucci, Guess, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Longines, Motorola, Movado, Nokia, Oris, Polar, Roger Dubuis, Samsung, Seiko, Tag Heuer, TCL and Techno Marine ...

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