Labour activists in Hong Kong criticised Apple yesterday for not pushing for better working conditions at factories that make its products, citing a new study by a concern group.
Ahead of the computer firm's annual shareholders' meeting in Cupertino, California, today, about 20 people from seven groups protested outside an Apple store in Causeway Bay yesterday. The groups included Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) and the Confederation of Trade Unions.
"Apple made so much money last year, but workers still work in misery," they chanted.
Sacom released a study yesterday after talking to 130 workers from three factories at the end of last year. Those factories were the Foxlink in Guangdong, Pegatron in Shanghai and Wintek in Jiangsu . It said the workers were treated "like slaves".
During the peak season employees had to work 14 hours a day, Sacom found. Some got only one or two days of rest in three months. Many were compelled to do unpaid work by having meal times cut short and were required to arrive at the factory before their official work day began.
The monthly salary for general workers at the factories ranges from 1,300 yuan (HK$1,600) to 1,400 yuan, but workers usually get between 2,000 and 5,000 yuan because they do a lot of overtime.
A spokeswoman for Apple China said: "We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made."
She also said that the suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.
In its "Apple Supplier Responsibility 2013 Progress Report", the company said it conducted 393 audits in 2012 at all levels of its supply chain, which was 72 per cent more than in 2011.