September 05, 2013, 5:16 AM — A labor watchdog group is slamming one of Apple's suppliers for allegedly exploiting its Chinese workers to build the upcoming budget iPhone.
To meet production orders for the device, a factory in Wuxi, China run by U.S.-based Jabil Circuit has been forcing its workers to log more than 100 overtime hours per month, claimed a report from New York-based China Labor Watch released on Thursday.
The group sent undercover investigators to the factory, and found workers there usually stand for close to 12 hours a day, and earn about 2800 yuan (US$454) a month. Although overtime is supposed to be voluntary, the factory's management will still force its employees to work the extra hours by denying approval to take time off, the group added.
Apple and Jabil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The investigation is just the latest from China Labor Watch, a group which has been critical of the working conditions at iPhone and iPad producing factories in China. In July, the watchdog group came out with another report, alleging that a facility run by Apple supplier Pegatron had also violated labor Chinese labor laws.
In its Thursday report China Labor Watch claims the long hours at the Jabil factory in China counter Apple's assertion that its suppliers have managed to keep the work week for its employees at or below 60 hours. On Apple's supplier responsibility website the company said in June that its suppliers had achieved a 99 percent compliance rate with the 60 hour cap, but it's unclear if Jabil's Wuxi plant was factored into the figure.
At the Jabil factory in Wuxi, workers are producing the rear plastic covers used for a new Apple iPhone device, according to China Labor Watch. Rumors have long circulated that Apple is preparing a budget version of its iPhone that will come in a variety of case colorings. On Sept. 10 Apple will hold a media event at which it is expected to announce its next iPhone device.