Apple has implemented improved reservation procedures and policies for employees dealing with the iPhone 6 launch today at retail stores, but the launch at the company’s Hong Kong store hasn’t gone quite as smooth as elsewhere. The store was hit by protesters from the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) and also required police to help disperse customers that had waited in line without reservations.
SACOM protested mainly outside Apple’s flagship Festival Walk Hong Kong store with the banner pictured above reading, “iSlave, Harsher than Harsher, Still made in sweatshops.” To go along with the protest today, SACOM has also published a new report titled “The Lives of iSlaves” that reveals recent findings froman almost 1-year long investigation of three factories run by Apple’s manufacturing partner Pegatron. SACOM says its key findings include various infractions related to labor laws at the facilities:
- No single day off for 2.5 months: Workers work up to 10 weeks without any rest day during peak season and they often work for 12-15 hours a day and sometimes up to 17-18 hours; - No protective equipment: Workers in hazardous positions are not provided with adequate and effective protective measures. There are cases of worker fainting in the production lines; - Illegal charges for health checks: Workers have to pay their own health checks during recruitment which should be paid by employer; - Difficult resignation: If workers would like to resign, they have to wait for a long time in order to get the approval which push them to leave without official documentation and losing at least 15 days of wages; and - High Proportion of Dispatch workers: who form the majority in the workforce which violates the regulation that dispatch workers should not exceed 10 percent of the total workforce. Pegatron avoids regular employment benefits such as social insurance and potential legal responsibility if there is any labour dispute by hiring large amount of dispatch workers.
SACOM has accused Apple several times of various violations at its suppliers, while another recent report from non-profit organization Green America and industry watchdog China Labor Watch accused Apple of various violations of labor laws at one of its other suppliers in the country. Apple regularly performs its own audits of suppliers and also had third-party audits conducted by the Fair Labor Association.
While SACOM protested outside the Apple stores and hung the banners pictured above, it doesn’t appear the group interfered with customers attempting to purchase the device from Apple. The Hong Kong store doesn’t allow any walk-in orders on launch day, which is thought to help combat devices being purchased and sold into China, but local reports still note many of the iPhone are being resold immediately outside the store at a premium: Many of the new models were resold immediately, right outside the store. Sellers waited around, while buyers – many from the mainland – flocked to them offering high prices. South China Morning Post also reports that police were called in to help deal with angry line sitters that were unaware they needed a reservation.