A growing number of Apple suppliers are violating the company’s labor policies.
In policies laid out for its suppliers, Apple mandates that all overtime must be voluntary, and no worker can labor more than six consecutive days, or 60 hours per week. According to a report (pdf) released by the company, 94% of its suppliers are currently complying with those rules, down from 98% in 2016 and the lowest rate of compliance since 2014. The audit also found 38 cases of falsified working hours in 2017, up from nine in 2016.
The change could be linked to high demand for the iPhone X, which was released in late 2017. Foxconn, Apple’s main assembly partner, saw a 40% decline in profits as it struggled to meet demand for the phone.
Apple’s suppliers have come under fire in the past for poor working conditions, and British and Chinese journalists have documented large-scale labor rights abuses from within iPhone factories. In 2010, there were 18 reported suicide attempts within Foxconn’s 450,000-worker factory, and 14 confirmed deaths. In 2011, just 38% of suppliers complied with Apple’s working-hours policy. By 2012, Apple began tracking this category on a monthly basis—that same year, compliance jumped to 92%.
For the latest report, Apple tracked the working hours of 1.3 million workers (paywall) on a weekly basis last year, covering 746 suppliers across 30 countries. (The company audited 1.2 million workers in 2016.) The audit also surfaced harassment and discrimination violations, as well as two cases of underage employees.