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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 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.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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