A New York-based labor rights group alleged Wednesday that Apple [corporate website] suppliers in China are violating local Chinese labor laws [report, PDF]. China Labor Watch [advocacy website] claimed that an Apple Foxconn factory and nine other factories in China that supply Apple force their workers into excessive overtime, pay low wages to compel workers to work overtime, expose workers to dangerous working environments, offer unsanitary food in the factory cafeterias and deny workers any type of insurance. Most of the workers are working around 10 to 12 hours a day for an average pay of around USD $1.30 to $1.62 an hour. China Labor Watch predicted that such inhumane conditions may exist in other facilities throughout China including the Riteng factory in Shanghai. Several recent work-related injuries and worker suicides at factories are believed to be related to these labor law violations. The rights group called upon Apple to use its resources to improve the work conditions in China, saying it has a responsibility to do so.
Human rights violations against workers are not an isolated phenomenon. In December of last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that more than 20,000 children are subject to inhumane conditions while working in Malian gold mines. The gold mined by the children is exported through the international stream of commerce with Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates as the industry's two major purchasers. A month earlier, HRW also reported [JURIST report] that Chinese copper mining companies in Zambia were violating national and international labor standards forcing employees to work 12 to 18 hours a day and prohibiting unionization of employees.