A workers’ rights organization looking into abuses in Chinese manufacturing plants uncovered a host of violations in a facility turning out Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) handsets and what appears to be plans for a cheap plastic iPhone.

The China Labour Watch documented more than 80 workers’ rights violations taking place at facilities of Pegatron Corp., a Taiwanese electronics company that has factories in China manufacturing iPhones.
The China Labour Watch investigators, which carried out their probe from March to July this year, interviewed more than 200 workers and logged labour violations including recruitment of under aged labourers, insufficient wages and poor working conditions.


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China Labour Watch is a New York-based non-profit organization focused on defending workers’ rights in China. It was founded by labour activist Li Qiang in 2000.

The investigators reported they had discovered 36 legal violations and 50 ethical violations.

They also turned up what appears to be work on a prototype for a low-priced iPhone.

The report quoted an unnamed worker who discussed his duties:

Today’s work is to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines. This iPhone model with a plastic cover will soon be released on the market by Apple.The task is pretty easy, and I was able to work independently after a five-minute instruction from a veteran employee. It took around a minute to paste protective film on one rear cover. The new cellphone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important.

There have been numerous reports circulating that Apple is poised to release a cheaper iPhone this year. The rumoured iPhone 5s is expected to run on a new iOS version and is aimed squarely at countering lower-cost Android phones.

Apple has responded to the allegations by China Labour watch with a statement indicating that it conducted 15 audits including surprise visits and spot checks of the Pegatron facilities since 2007.

Apple said it worked closely with its suppliers to prevent excessive overtimes.

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