Pressure from Apple to lower costs is driving worsening conditions for workers at the company's manufacturing partners.
This is according to watchdog group China Labor Watch, which says [PDF] that under CEO Tim Cook, the Cupertino giant has asked the companies that assemble its products to cut their own costs, and those demands have led them to cut back on worker pay and factory conditions.
Specifically, the group reports that Pegatron has been passing on financial pressures from Apple by committing multiple violations of Chinese labor laws on fair pay and workplace safety.
"Working conditions are terrible, and workers are subject to terrible treatment," China Labor Watch writes.
"Currently, Apple's profits are declining, and the effects of this decline have been passed on to suppliers. To mitigate the impact, Pegatron has taken some covert measures to exploit workers."
Among the issues cited in the report were workers being forced to put in excessive overtime and have their wages cut to $1.60 per hour. Additionally, the investigation found Pegatron interns being forced to put in hours almost as long as employees, and factory conditions where workers were operating without proper safety equipment.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
The company has pushed a campaign to improve conditions at the plants that manufacture its products and has in the past cut ties with the worst offenders.
According to China Labor Watch, however, Cook and Co have at the same time been squeezing the manufacturers to reduce costs and keep profits up. This, in turn, makes them culpable when those partners pass the pressure on to workers.
"Apple has already subcontracted its production to suppliers such as Pegatron, however, these workers are making Apple products. Moreover, through outsourcing, Apple lowers its production cost, but this is only possible by exploiting workers," the report reads.
"Apple is the real reason working conditions are deteriorating." ®