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Catcher denies reported poor working conditions in China plant

2018/01/17 16:38:17

Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) Taiwan-based Catcher Technology Co., a metal casing supplier to Apple Inc., denied on Wednesday a report on poor working conditions at a factory located in Suqian, an industrial city in Jiangsu Province, China.

In a statement filed with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE), Catcher said it strictly adheres to the standards put in place by Apple for all suppliers, adding that the company pays close attention to worker benefits and environmental protection.

The statement from Catcher came after Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that workers at the Suqian plant "stand for up to 10 hours a day in hot workshops slicing and blasting iPhone casings for Apple Inc., handling noxious chemicals sometimes without proper gloves or masks."

Bloomberg cited the advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW) as describing the poor working conditions at the Suqian plant, about a six hour drive from Shanghai, as the "downside of a high-tech boom buoying the world's second-largest economy."

"My hands turned bloodless white after a day of work," one of the workers at the Catcher plant said in an interview with Bloomberg. It is her first job outside her home in Henan province and she makes a little over 4,000 Chinese yuan (US$622) or just over US$2 an hour, the report said.

"I only tell good things to my family and keep the sufferings like this for myself," she said, asking not to be identified in the report.

Catcher said the company continues to make progress in improving working conditions at its production sites every year. According to its website, the Tainan-headquartered manufacturer currently has three factories in China at Suqian, Suzhou in Jiangsu and Taizhou in Zhejiang.

After the allegations of poor working conditions, Catcher said it has launched a thorough internal probe and insisted "the company abides by the law and meets its requirements as a supplier" to Apple.

Catcher said the report by Bloomberg and the accusations by the CLW on labor benefits, labor safety and weak environmental protection efforts are "unfounded."

Catcher noted that the Suqian plant was named by Jiangsu Provincial Government as one of only a handful of green production sites in the province in 2017.

Moreover, "Catcher has set itself the goal of using 100 percent renewable energy to power production lines that roll out products for Apple by the end of 2018," in Suqian, the company said.

Catcher added that it has acquired a piece of land next to the Suqian plant and is planning to build a workers' dormitory, which is scheduled to be finished in 2019. The new dorm will continue to improve the benefits received by its workers, demonstrating the company's determination to burnish its reputation for corporate social responsibility.

In the wake of the Bloomberg report, shares in Catcher fell 1.92 percent to close at NT$331.50 (US$11.24) on the TWSE, underperforming the main board, where the weighted index ended up 0.17 percent at 11,004.80.

(By Jeffery Wu and Frances Huang)