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Apple found that 3 of its 102 parts and manufacturing partners used child labor to help build the company's best-selling iPods, iPhones, and Macs.  (Source: Apple)

The report's brutal honesty is sure to draw criticism of Apple, but it's important to remember that Apple is demanding its suppliers make changes and is one of the few in the industry not to cast a blind eye to human rights violations.  (Source: China Smack)
Company is seeking to correct abusive suppliers

Apple last week aired its annual evaluation of its supplier's compliance with its supplier standards program.  The program is designed to discourage practices like child labor and substandard living and working conditions among the company's suppliers worldwide.  The company employs independent investigative firms like Verité, to investigate it suppliers.

The new report found major violations at many suppliers, including the use of child labor.

The report describes, "Apple discovered three facilities that had previously hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum age for employment is 16.  Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, although the workers were no longer underage or no longer in active employment at the time of our audit.  One facility attempted to conceal evidence of historical cases of underage labor.  Two other facilities presented falsified records that concealed evidence of violations of Apple's Code regarding working hours and days of rest."

Many suspect that at least one of the plants belonged to Foxconn, one of Apple's biggest suppliers, who already is in a lot of trouble for the suspicious death of an employee who lost and iPhone prototype and for beating a foreign correspondent who was trying to do a news story on Apple. 

Many will be quick to attack Apple for its admission that child labor was found to be used to build the company's iPods, iPhones, and Macs at three of its 102 plants worldwide.  It's important to bear in mind, though, that most companies who contract suppliers in China or other developing nations merely turn a blind eye to rights violations.  Apple is one of the few who actually looks into its working conditions and as a result of its openness is perhaps unduly receiving negative public perception.

Aside from child labor, there were a wealth of other violations.  Apple says it "found records that indicated workers had exceeded weekly work-hour limits more than 50 percent of the time. Similarly, at 65 facilities, more than half of the records we reviewed indicated that workers had worked more than six consecutive days at least once per month."

At least one of the suppliers involved had been found guilty of violations in 2008 as well.  Apple reports that it has severed its relationship with the firm.  Writes Apple, "When Apple investigated further, we uncovered additional records and conducted worker interviews that revealed excessive working hours and seven days of continuous work. When confronted with this information, the facility provided Apple with accurate timecards. Based on the repeat core violation and inadequate actions, Apple is terminating all business with this facility."

Another common violation was underpaying workers.  Apple reports, "At 48 of the facilities audited, we found that overtime wages had been calculated improperly, resulting in underpayment of overtime wages.  At 24 facilities, our auditors found that workers had been paid less than minimum wage for regular working hours."

The audited plants were in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Philippines and the U.S., though Apple did not reveal exact locations or the name of the suppliers. 

The full report, Supplier Responsibility, is available here (PDF).

One can only hope that people view Apple's honest evaluation of its own supply chain's shortcomings in a positive light -- otherwise other firms will have little incentive to similarly monitor their own supply chains for abuse.

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RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Shark Tek on 3/3/2010 9:04:32 AM , Rating: 2
Agree, this is nothing new.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By IdBuRnS on 3/3/2010 9:17:00 AM , Rating: 5
No, but what is new is a company actually fessing up to it and (at least appearing) to do something about it.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By HotFoot on 3/3/2010 9:24:24 AM , Rating: 5
Once in a while a company comes out and fesses up to the practice. I'm not inclined to think anything is going to change. Wasn't it back in the 1996, 14 years ago, that the whole child labor scandal happened surrounding Kathie Lee Gifford's brand?

The current system rewards companies that abuse children. Revelations and corrections from time to time aren't going to change that.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Shig on 3/3/2010 9:30:39 AM , Rating: 5
Rofl, the only reason they fess up to it is because THEY GOT CAUGHT IN THE ACT.

How nieve are you people.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Shig on 3/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Pirks on 3/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Kurz on 3/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Pirks on 3/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By tastyratz on 3/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Pirks on 3/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Samus on 3/3/2010 12:53:02 PM , Rating: 1
Here in the US we use cheap child labor all the time. Often they are abused and loopholes in the law allow them to be payed below minimum wage, and in some cases, nothing at all.

They're called internships.

By Devil07 on 3/3/2010 1:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
They're called internships

Not exactly. There are laws that vary from state to state that are specifically setup for who can be in an internship and how long it can last. Sadly, most of these laws are hardly ever enforced and rarely followed. I worked at a fairly large recording facility in the Nashville area and due to our stature in the industry, we had to look-up and adhere to the laws governing internships, or we could have faced serious fines, lawsuits or any other list of bad things that could have happened. Meanwhile, all the little studios in town are running their interns unpaid for a year or more. Sad.

By afkrotch on 3/3/2010 10:24:56 PM , Rating: 3
In pretty much every single country, we use free child labor. It's called, having kids and making them work. How many parents in the world have told their kids to go mow the lawn and not pay them a single cent? Then they give the whole speech about "I provided you with a roof over your head and food."

By magneticfield on 3/4/2010 4:43:23 AM , Rating: 2
or this:

New York airport jets 'directed by child'

By FITCamaro on 3/4/2010 6:28:17 AM , Rating: 3
Most internships are for college students. And maybe you shouldn't go into a career field that has unpaid internships. I had three internships in college. All were paid.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Kurz on 3/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Pirks on 3/3/2010 11:04:06 PM , Rating: 1
haha kurzy boy don't like taste of your own PC medicine huh? eat it boy :P eat it all! :))

By whiskerwill on 3/4/2010 8:37:27 AM , Rating: 2
People who down rated me please look at the context.
I was responding to Pirk's Earlier comment.
Replying to Pirks is like the scene in the movie where the guy tells the hostages, "if you try to escape, we're going to shoot you AND the man next to you". You're gonna suffer just because you're near him...

By lecanard on 3/3/2010 12:46:09 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not one to go around correcting spelling, but since you are the second person to do it on this thread, it looks like the mistake is spreading, so I would just like remind everyone that the word is "naïve", or at least "naive" if your keyboard doesn't do accents.

By Virtual Conan on 3/3/2010 1:06:53 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. Easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By sigilscience on 3/3/2010 4:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
Rofl, the only reason they fess up to it is because THEY GOT CAUGHT IN THE ACT.
Are you stupid? Apple published this report as a result of their own internal audit. The only ones who "caught them in the act" is Apple themselves.

By afkrotch on 3/3/2010 10:29:07 PM , Rating: 3
Apple only does this internal audit, because they were caught doing it previously. They had to make it look like they were attempting to stop the act.

This of course bit them in the ass, as it's still going on and this time. Their own audit proves it.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By whiskerwill on 3/3/2010 10:19:28 AM , Rating: 3
What do you want them to "do about it"? The sad fact is that these 15 year olds would either be working 8 hours a day in a Foxconn factory, or working 12 hours a day in the rice fields, under much more brutal conditions.

The problem here isn't "American megacorporations", its the poor standard of living in many parts of Asia.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By Aloonatic on 3/3/2010 10:34:57 AM , Rating: 4
Almost every industrailised country goes through this period at some stage. I'm pretty sure it will have happened in the USA. Sure did in Britain tho.

I'm not saying that it's right or anyhting of course, I'd love to live in a world where their generation went straiught from the fields to the laboratory. However, whilst their economy is growing, the cheap labour that these kids are capable of providing (whilst being in much safer conditions thatn our great great grand parents where when they worked in cotton mills or wherever) is laying the foundations for an ecconomy that will be able to provide education upto 16/18 for all, further education and so on.

It's pretty much impossible for an ecconomy to go from agricultural to tehcnological without as mass production/labour filled period inbetween to underpin the transition, especially in these globalised times, as these kids and their cheap labour gives their country a competative edge. Else we might as well make the stuff here and they wouldn't have a job at all, and would stay in the 1800s forever.

It doesn't make it right for them to be grossly exploited or abused of course, if that is going on, then that is very wrong.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By whiskerwill on 3/3/2010 10:55:06 AM , Rating: 4
But of course the emotional appeal to "save the children!" will always win out against common sense.

I honestly think human IQs are dropping over time.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By therealnickdanger on 3/3/2010 11:31:24 AM , Rating: 3
I think IQs are just as low as ever, but pandering emotional manipulation is at an all-time high. We're bombarded with emotional blitzes every day by politicians, sports figures, celebrity gossip, religions, advertisements, (news covers all these) etc. In reality, they are ALL distractions designed (intentionally designed) to destroy intelligent discourse, to divide, conquer, and sell you things and ideas... most of it you don't even know you're "buying".

I'm not one for conspiracy theories and such, but I found the overall message of the documentary "Fall Of The Republic" to be very enlightened.

By afkrotch on 3/3/2010 10:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Hold on. I need to find out what Beyonce thinks of this post. BRB.

By FITCamaro on 3/4/2010 6:31:51 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think IQs are low. IQ is just a measure of potential. Kids today just aren't applying themselves.

By computergeek485 on 3/3/2010 8:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
I honestly think human IQs are dropping over time.

I feel like its also true and the movie idiocracy does a great job illustrating that in the beginning

By afkrotch on 3/3/2010 10:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
It has happened in the US. Hence why they invented unions.

By drycrust3 on 3/3/2010 11:00:53 AM , Rating: 2
had previously hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum age for employment is 16

I agree. As I read the article, those suppliers had done things that were illegal, not that they were doing things that were illegal. Isn't this like getting excited because a Ford bolt maker or a Starbucks coffee farm once broke the law?
In addition, we don't know if they were employed on an adult's wage or at a child's wage, what the hours of work were, how physically demanding the work was, and nor do we know what age they claimed to be when they were employed.
I realise this isn't a popular concept, but employing a 15 year old on an adult's wage to do a job that isn't excessively demanding isn't in itself wrong. Sure, it isn't desirable, nor was it legal in those countries, but that totally ignores social conditions. There are places in the world where there isn't any welfare.
I think it is great that Apple insists on employment standards from their suppliers, too many companies from "the West" go into third world countries and behave just as badly as the local companies do, I think Apple should be applauded for their stand, not berated.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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