Apple under fire in Taiwan over workers rights

Apple under fire in Taiwan over workers rights

Apple has come under fire for its relations with companies that have allegedly abusive work practices reports the Global Post.

According the newspaper, protesters gathered outside Apple's offices in Taipei to voice their anger over its relationship with flat-panel maker Wintek, which labour groups claim exploits workers in Taiwan and China.

Wintek reportedly fired 600 workers in December last year, cut salaries and made employees work unpaid overtime to fill rush orders.

Labour groups also alleges a Wintek subsidiary in Dongguan, China, cut workers' salaries without negotiation, has unacceptable working conditions and illegally fired 19 workers after a strike in mid-April the Global Post reports.

"We want to go through Apple to put pressure on Wintek," said Chu Wei-li, 30, secretary-general of the Taipei-based National Federation of Independent Trade Unions, who took part in the protests outside Apple's Taipei office on Thursday morning. One protester held up an Apple MacBook with the Chinese characters for "responsibility" displayed on the screen.

Wintek has denied any wrongdoing with spokesperson Susie Lee claiming in an email that record net losses in 2008 due to the global downturn, and was forced to institute "cost-saving measures."

Apple's Asia spokesperson Jill Tan added: "Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are [made]," and pointed me to the firm's corporate responsibility information."

"Apple conducts regular audits of suppliers to make sure they comply with Apple's code of conduct, Tan said, and "we require corrective actions when we find violations."

This is not the first time Apple has come under scrutiny for allegedly poor labour conditions. In 2006, the Mail On Sunday claimed Apple's iPods were made by mainly female workers in a Foxconn Chinese factory, earning as little as £27 (US$43) per month for up to 15-hour days. The report alleged workers lived in dormitories that housed 100 people, while visitors from the outside world were not permitted.

Apple launched its own investigation to enforce certain changes in labour practices at Foxconn's factory and issued a statement.

"Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible," Apple said at the time.

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