CLW’s Research Challenges the Reliability of Apple’s 2016 Progress Report

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Read this report in Chinese

In its 2016 Progress Report, Apple claims that 97% of its suppliers comply with its 60-hour maximum work hour standard. China Labor Watch (CLW) believes this to be questionable.

According to CLW’s field investigation and the study of 1,261 paystubs in Pegatron Shanghai, the second largest supplier of Apple with about 70,000 workers, 43.7% of workers in September, and 71.1% of workers in October 2015 worked much more than 60 hours. (See Graph 1)

In the same year, we also carried out investigations in Foxconn Zhengzhou in September and October, and in Quanta in March and April. During our investigation of these factories, we also discovered violations of the 60-hour maximum standard. In short, in all three factories we investigated, there were working hour violations. In total, we have studied the working hours of 300,000 workers. As such, we question the validity of the data presented by Apple.

In the 2015 Supplier Responsibility Report, Apple claimed that “the average hours worked per week was under 49. Employees who worked more than 40 hours each week worked an average of 55 hours per week”, in the recent 2016 report, it states that “this system allowed us to achieve 97 percent compliance across all workweeks, with full-time employee hours averaging 55 hours per week”. Furthermore, in the 2016 Report, Apple claims that the “97% compliance with our 60-hour workweek in 2015” is a “5 percent increase from 2014”. We question how this increase is possible if the full-time employees who worked more than 40 hours per week still have the same average work hours in 2014 and 2015.                    

                                                                              2015 Report                                     2016 Report

If we view the Supplier Responsibility Report from last year, Apple explicitly stated that they “tracked over 1.1 million workers on average per week in our supply chain”, and calculated the compliance rate with the 60-hour workweek standard. However, this year, they provided a supplier compliance rate, but how this was calculated, and what the difference is between a supplier compliance rate and a workweek compliance rate are both unclear, as indicated in the graphs below:

                                                    2015 Report                                                                         2016 Report

We conducted our first pay stubs study about Apple in February 2015, which was denounced as invalid by Apple with the claim that our sample size was too small. However, following the submission of our report—including information derived from 1,261 paystubs—to Apple in February 2016, we have yet to receive a formal responsedespite it having been over a month since we contacted them.

For more information about our research on Apple, please see our 2016 report and the 1,261 original paystubs.

CLW executive director Li Qiang commented: “According to our investigation in Pegatron Shanghai, workers’ conditions such as overtime hours and working conditions in 2015 have only worsened compared to the previous year. We do not see any improvements made by Apple. What we see is just a marketing strategy. In 2015, overtime pay still accounted to 42.4% of a worker’s gross income, without which they could not even support their own lives.” (See Graph 2)

Graph 1: China Labor Watch’s investigation in Pegatron

Graph 2: workers work overtime excessively due to very low base wage