Apple supplier accused of labour violations at China iPhone plants
According to the US based NGO China Labor Watch, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers has employed underage workers and pressed its employees to work illegal overtime, despite Apple having more than doubled its number of global supply chain audits between 2010 and 2012 to 393, following scrutiny over the firm’s manufacturing and labour practices. The report is the latest allegation of poor conditions at three Shanghai factories operated by the Taiwanese company Pegatron, who are producing the low-cost iPhone that is expected to the hit the market later this year. China Labor Watch researchers reported that they found employees under the age of 18 working 10.5 hours a day, discriminatory hiring procedures, harassment and overtime hours that exceeded Chinese legal limits. Apple said that the latest report “contains claims that are new to us and we will investigate them immediately.” (Financial Times*; BBC)
Credit Suisse loses age bias case
A UK employment tribunal has ruled that the Swiss bank Credit Suisse “directly discriminated” against equity analyst Tony Shiret because of his age. Credit Suisse dismissed Mr Shiret in May 2011 when he was 55 and had been employed at the bank for 18 years. Mr Shiret was known as the “godfather of retail” in the City for his coverage of the sector, where he had been rated second in the 2010 Extel Analysts Survey. According to a recent survey of more than 1,600 workers by Astbury Marsden, the UK international recruitment firm, age discrimination is now seen as a more widespread problem in London that sexual discrimination. Credit Suisse said it plans to appeal, stating “we are disappointed by the decision. Credit Suisse is an equal opportunity employer and does not condone discrimination on any basis.” (Financial Times*; Retail Week)
Shale company Cuadrilla hit by fracking protest
The UK shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources experienced another day of disruption yesterday after environmental protestors arrived at its site in West Sussex. Protestors have been trying to block lorries from entering the site since late last week following concerns that Cuadrilla will use hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, at the site. The process has transformed the energy market in the US, where it was pioneered, but it has also raised opposition from environmental groups who say the risks include possible groundwater contamination. Cuadrilla says it may not need to use the technique at the site, where it is planning to carry out exploratory drilling for oil. Natalie Bennett, the Green Party leader, stated yesterday that protestors are planning to stay at the site “for the long haul.” (Financial Times*)
GMO companies launch website to fight anti-biotech movement
Yesterday a group of biotechnology seed companies launched an online forum, www.GMOAnswers.com, in response to opposition to genetically modified foods amongst consumer groups. Companies backing the website include the US firms Monsanto Company, DuPont and DowAgroSciences. The website is part of a wider campaign by the biotechnology industry to suppress growing calls for genetically modified organism (GMO) food labelling and tighter regulation of the biotechnology seed industry in the US. European opposition to GMOs is so strong that Monsanto announced earlier this month that it would withdraw all pending requests to grow new types of GMO crops in Europe. Consumer groups, including the US NGO Food & Water Watch, have predicted that the industry effort to change consumer scepticism will fail, claiming there is scientific evidence that GMO foods can contribute to health problems and damage the environment. (Eco Business).