Apple supplier uses forced Uighur labor, report suggests

Apple device manufacturers and suppliers have been in the news several times for forced labour or improper paycheck. A new report obtained by The Verge from Tech Transparency Project (TTP) suggests that Lens Technology, a supplier to companies like Apple, Amazon, and Tesla uses forced Uighur labour.

The supplier Lens Technology makes electronic components for use in products of major companies. The supplier has reportedly forced people of Chinese detention center and Uighur muslim people of the minority to work on building its components. A recent report revealed that the number of detention camps in China is much higher than previously suggested – approximately 380.


Apple rubbishes the report

Apple has refused that its suppliers use forced labour. The company also added that it regularly investigates its supplier for any malpractice. However, the other companies that use components from Tesla and Amazon, did not comment on the matter (as of 29th December, 2020).

iPhone Factory in India
Image for representational purpose

“Apple has zero tolerance for forced labor. Looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every supplier assessment we conduct, including surprise audits,” said Josh Rosenstock, an Apple spokesperson, in a statement. “Earlier this year we confirmed that none of our suppliers have Uighur workers from ‘pairing programs’ from Xinjiang on any Apple production lines.”

Another report carried by The Washington Post suggests Apple’s involvement in making sure that the Uighur minority are forced to work. The Cupertino based tech company has reportedly been lobbying against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act bill. If the bill is not passed, US companies will be able to work with the Chinese government to use the minority people stuck in detention camps.

“What Apple would like is we all just sit and talk and not have any real consequences,” said Cathy Feingold, a member of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), which supports the bill. “They’re shocked because it’s the first time where there could be some actual effective enforceability.”