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Apple partner Foxconn used too many temporary workers during iPhone ramp-up

What you need to know

  • Apple has confirmed a report that Foxconn employed too many temps.
  • China has laws in place to limit temporary employee numbers.
  • Apple didn't admit Foxconn broke any laws.

Apple has confirmed that Foxconn used too many temporary staff during the production of its products. Foxconn is one of the main players in Apple's iPhone manufacturing chain and it's believed the employees were used to help ramp up production of the upcoming iPhone 11.

Initial claims by China Labor Watch had Foxconn breaking labor laws by utilizing considerably more temporary workers than it was allowed to. The law states that Chinese companies can only use temporary workers – known as dispatch workers – in numbers up to 10% of its workforce. However, it appears that the number at Foxconn was anything up to 50%.

China Labor Watch had apparently received complaints from Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory relating to working conditions and the amount of overtime worked. Foxconn says that overtime is voluntary, however.

Apple says that it has investigated the issue and is working with Foxconn to "immediately resolve" it. Foxconn also said that it is aware that its use of overtime and dispatch workers "was not consistent with company guidelines" via a statement.

China Labor Watch notes that the use of dispatch staff coincides with a higher demand for iPhone production. Apple is expected to announce its 2019 iPhone lineup during an event on September 10th and production will already be underway to meet early demand. By using temporary workers as well as having team members work overtime, Foxconn is able to quickly speed up production without having to set on new, full-time workers.

Neither Foxconn nor Apple has mentioned the other troubling accusations that workers also suffer verbal abuse, exposure to toxic chemicals, and sexual abuse.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.