A Letter from a Student Worker at Apple's Supplier Factory(WuXi Green Point)

Monday, January 9, 2017

(Green Point is a supply factory for Apple. With 40,000 employees, GreenPoint is the fully-funded subsidiary company affiliated to a U.S. company, Jabil Circuit.


Between last July and August, a large number of students joined the factory yet have not received their duly wages when their work was done.


CLW contacted Apple on September 19,2016 . According Apple response to CLW, there are at least 2501 students got their wages back now. )

My name is Yu Chunyan and I would like to share my experience at Green Point (Wuxi, Jiangsu). I arrived in Wuxi on June 23rd and stayed in a hotel for two nights before interviewing with the Yiqin Labor Dispatch Company, with whom I signed multiple contractual agreements (labor, confidentiality & relinquishing of social security insurance). Upon signing we were required to pay a 50RMB (approximately $7.27) deposit for accommodation, which would be returned upon our leave from the dormitory. That evening, we were brought to the Green Point dormitories.

The next day (June 26th) we underwent physical examinations at a cost of 45RMB (approximately $6.54) which would be returned after completing one month’s work. We did not hear back from the company until 10:45pm 3 days later (June 29th), giving the notification of training. On July 1st, we were provided with basic training concerning work responsibilities and safety guidelines. Our training lasted 11 hours from 7:40am until 9:00pm, meal times excluded.

We formally started working on July 2nd. I was assigned to the assembly department on the 2nd floor of Building 3. My daily responsibility was to assemble the plastic modules of iPhone 7’s back covers, and then paint them. Shifts ran from 8pm until 8am, with two meal breaks: 10:30pm-11:30pm and 4:30am-5:30am. Upon hiring, we were told meal breaks were 60 minutes long. Due to a higher output demand, the breaks rapidly shrunk from 60 to 40 minutes, then was further compressed to 30 minutes– all in a matter of days. At that point, within 30 minutes from the beginning of the break time you had to get back to the assembly line – regardless of whether or not you have had your meal. Despite the shortened meal times, once on the assembly line there was no chance to rest, we had to immediately resume working. Our daily production increased from 7000 units to 40,000 and even 50,000 units per night, continuing on into early August.


     Wages were paid on the 10th of each month, meaning wages were received on the 10th of August. Many workers said they would quit immediately upon receiving their wages. Many student workers asked to resign because the production target was set too high. At that time, leaving was relatively easier. By August 10th, 3 of my dormitory roommates left. I asked about their pay only to find that for 21 days of work, they only received 1500RMB (approximately $217.97) due to deductions by the company.

With time the production targets increased, even exceeding 50,000 units. I became ill. Suffered from coughing, headaches and stomach pains so our line leader took me to the infirmary. The next day, August 11th, I took sick leave. I returned the following day, and resigned on the 13th of August. When resigning, the vice manager explained that for those who quit before August 25th would be deducted 500RMB (approximately $72.66) in wages, implying that leaving was not encouraged. My colleagues explained that it was merely intimidation and there was no plausible ground for the deduction. Nonetheless, I resigned. Shortly afterwards, the factory began intimidating the students with the same threat. Many of those who had already applied to resign then changed their resignation dates to August 25th.

On the following payday, September 10th, many students found their wages were much lower than expected. Upon contacting the dispatch company and factory, their questions were met with various excuses and vague answers. I called 7 or 8 times regarding my wages, but no one answered. Eventually someone took my call and when prompted to clarify my wages, she explained that 281RMB (approximately $40.83) was deducted for social insurance, 136RMB (approximately $19.76) for utilities, and other expenses such as an early arrival dormitory fee and laundry fees (for the uniforms).


For the 16 days I worked I received 1395RMB (approximately $202.71) after deductions, not including the 4 days I did not work. I explained to her that on the day preceding our off-day, we have a shift with double pay and asked her to clarify how this was calculated. She explained that I had one double-pay shift on Friday, and the other instances fell on Saturdays and Sundays (to which neither night shift or double pay bonuses apply). I asked how this could be, since I only ever had Saturdays off. How was it possible that they had recorded me working on both Saturdays and Sundays? She claimed as the calculations were based on the work times presented to her and that nothing could be done. Shocked at their behavior I asked how they could do this, as changing shifts like this amounted to falsifying records. At this point, she hung up the phone. When I called back to continue my inquiry, she immediately hung up after I told her my employee number. Further calls went without answer.

A few days later, the bank notified me that the 45RMB (approximately $6.54) for the physical examination had been refunded. I once again began calling the company and despite no answers, persisted until eventually someone picked up the phone (likely out of frustration). I inquired again as to my wages, he told me that 291RMB (approximately $42.29) was deducted for social insurance and 123RMB (approximately $17.87) for utilities. I asked why these numbers were different from my previous inquiry and how they could be so irresponsible. I was beginning to become angry. I asked how it was possible that my utilities were more than those who had worked until the 25th of August, when I had quit on the 13th. He replied that he wasn’t sure.


When I asked about the social insurance, he said it was paid for. I told him I would check. I immediately called the social insurance bureau, who asked for my social security number in order to check. When I finally reached Green Point after repeated calls, I was told that social insurance must be declared before a social security number could be received. I asked if the social insurance hasn’t been paid, then why haven’t I had the money refunded? Moreover, as students, we don’t even need social insurance. He explained that the labor department requires the company pay social insurance and nothing could be done. I then asked for my social security number so I could check when the payment had gone through. He replied that the company did not yet have my social security number. I pressed further, asking him where the money was since it hadn’t been paid into my social insurance yet. At this point, he hung up. They eventually answered my calls, only to hang up once they understood who I was. Any further calls went unanswered.


On September 25th, I received a call from Green Point asking what it was I wanted to know about my wages. I told them that I wanted to know about my social insurance and overtime. They told me that the double pay isn’t calculated on a 7-day week but calculated based on 8 days per month, from which actual days off are subtracted, the result of which are considered as double pay. I told him that this doesn’t make sense either. I worked 20 days in August, and had 3 days off, and one day of sick leave, why would I only have one shift where I received double pay? She said that for the 20 days, I can have 4 days off. As I took 3 days off, 4 days minus 3 days, meant that there was only one day where I earned double-pay. No wages are paid for sick leave. I told them that the calculation was incorrect. There are 7 days in a week, and there should be one day where the wages are double-pay, and according to labor law, sick leave is also included in base wages. 


I told her that I had also asked the manager and veterans at the factory. She said that this was incorrect, and told me a host of reasons. When I once again mentioned social insurance, she said that they were still in the application process and would provide me with my social security number at later date. Shen then hung up. When I called again about my social insurance, I was told the records could not be found, meaning they had not paid. Why were they lying to me? Being a student is already difficult enough, and it isn’t easy to make enough money to be able to afford my tuition!


On September 27th, I added the girl that I called previously, on WeChat, and sent her the calculations for labor compensation and wages as stipulated under the labor law. After seeing this, she became very angry. She immediately contacted me, claiming the calculations were incorrect and that it would cause them a lot of problems and would mislead the students who were working. Therefore, I asked for my August paystub as well as their wage calculations for a comparison. She has yet to deliver my August paystub.

Above is my experience at Wuxi Green Point. As for Wuxi, I will never return. It’s a place full of fraudulence. The dispatch company was overbearing. They would threaten not to pay wages to students who disagreed with the company’s arrangement. There are so many dispatching companies like this who bullying students like us who have only just left campus. Do they have a conscience? I hope you can help us innocent students acquire justice. Thank you very much! 

The days passed quietly. Green Point returned money on two instances. One was the 45RMB (approximately $6.54) for the physical, and the other was 40RMB (approximately $5.81) in wages. There was no further contact. When we were about ready to give up, we suddenly had a student bring up (in our Green Point wage discussion group) someone’s WeChat contact information who had agreed to assist us. We mulled over the proposition, and decided to give it a shot even though we didn’t know this person. These days, China is rife with scam artists. When we asked his identity, he said he was with China Labor Watch. We somewhat reluctantly shared our story with him, as we had no other hope (we were exhausted from having to call the labor bureau, Green Point and Teliliang).

4 or 5 days elapsed without news. We asked what was happening, if we had any hope. We were asked to wait, and later that evening he asked (in our WeChat group) if there was a student among us who was particularly knowledgeable regarding our grievance and who had evidence of the shortchanging who could serve as an example. The purpose of which is to have Apple give Green Point some pressure, to accelerate the process of coming to a resolution. Once this was made clear, I reached out without hesitation sharing my story in the hopes to serve as an example and to help other students on their behalf. Fortunately, he accepted my story. I stayed up all night writing this letter (because of the time-difference with America).

The next day, I received a phone call from Green Point. This time their tone was completely different, much softer than before, yet still harsh. They inquired whether or not I had a grievance concerning my pay, and why I would write a complaint. I replied that there was a multitude of issues, such as social insurance, sick leave, double pay (shifts), utilities etc. They maintained their original stance, insisting that social insurance was paid for, that I had miscalculated my sick leave (at Green Point, those on sick leave must produce a doctor’s note). Moreover, they claimed that I miscalculated my double pay, that my method was inconsistent with theirs. Their point being, I was wrong and they were right. Speaking of utilities, I stated that there [should] be a difference between the utility fee for someone who left the dormitories earlier and later. They asked who was in the dormitory, and I gave their names. She said she would follow up on this issue. I agreed.  That afternoon I received a call from Shanghai (from whom, I cannot clearly remember). She claimed to be calling to clarify the situation. Her tone was much better than Green Point’s, and much more politely. I explained the course of events that had unfolded. She said she would follow up on the situation. I thanked her, and expressed my hope that the situation would be resolved soon.

A few days passed, with Green Point calling me on multiple occasions to confirm that my social insurance had been paid. Otherwise, nothing of occurred. They gave me my social security number to enable me to verify the social insurance payment. As soon as I heard this, I knew it was a thinly veiled attempt to deceive me. How could they have the gall? Unsurprisingly, when I called to verify I was told that they could not find the payment as it was still in the application phase. The money had not been paid. China Labor Watch was very responsible. After I shared my story, they encouraged other students to share their wage grievances with them as well. They summed up the totals, and demanded that the money be returned to the students. I waited about a week until I finally received 1200+RMB (approximately $174.38) that was owed to me. Despite the amount being insufficient, I was nonetheless pleased. The other students were also reimbursed, proving that our efforts were not in vain. This also built trust between ourselves and China Labor Watch. China Labor Watch asked if the money returned was sufficient, to which I replied that neither myself nor the other students had had our full wages returned. We were asked to wait, and three days later our money was returned. This time, we were reimbursed for the full amount of our due wages. We were thrilled.

The students who were insufficiently payed did not hesitate to seek out China Labor Watch after hearing of our success. Students increasingly joined in, and China Labor Watch continues to offer assistance. Needless to say, those of us who had been refunded did not hesitate to help the students who had not. We hope the government can improve the labor laws, improve management of labor, provide people with fair treatment and reasonable wages, and uphold our rights. That these matters involve money makes it difficult. Due to this experience, I am confident that the world is full of good people, people who make selfless contributions, and if I presented with the opportunity then I wish to join a public interest organization. I wish to help others and to be a valuable and upstanding person. I’d also like to take the time to sincerely thank China Labor Watch for all their hard work!