Print 92 comment(s) - last by The0ne.. on Mar 8 at 10:13 AM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By whiskerwill on 3/3/2010 12:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
Talk about proving my point about emotional responses.

First of all, these kids weren't forced to work by this company. Even insinuating that is just stupid. In some cases, their parents might (and I emphasize "might" here) have forced their kids to work, but most of them probably just wanted a job. Try being 15 in China with your parents living in a hut, no money to buy you decent clothes and send you to school, much less a car, a computer, or a cell phone.. A job at Foxconn looks pretty damn good under those conditions.

Secondly, they weren't making "20 cents a day". They were making the standard wage, which is a hell of a lot better than they'd make working in some rice paddy somewhere (which is what they'd be doing otherwise).

Thirdly, the "horrible conditions" is another piece of stupidity. They were working on an electronics assembly line, in clean sanitary well-lit conditions, doing nothing strenous at all. Conditions probably ten times better than what they have at home.

You want to speak out against child labor fine. But try to be honest about it.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By ClownPuncher on 3/3/2010 12:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
At age 15, I don't see the big deal. Now, if some of the kids were younger, I could definitely see the problem with that. Though if these kids were being paid less than the minimum wage for their area, it does seem like exploitation. If the kids were under the legal working age, there should be fines, but I have no moral outrage concerning 15 year olds having jobs.

I started work here in the USA at 14, now admittedly my working conditions were likely better than you find in many parts of China. I wasn't ever forced to work, it wasn't to supplement my families income either.

By porkpie on 3/3/2010 1:22:46 PM , Rating: 3
Our most famous President, Abraham Lincoln, began hard labor helping to clear fields starting at age 7. By age 10, he was spending most of every day doing it. He only managed 18 months of formal schooling his entire life.

Admittedly that was the 19th century. But most of China is still in 19th century living conditions...and jobs like Foxconn is offering are the only way they'll ever get out of it.

RE: I'm not defending Apple but...
By rdhood on 3/3/2010 2:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
Secondly, they weren't making "20 cents a day". They were making the standard wage, which is a hell of a lot better than they'd make working in some rice paddy somewhere (which is what they'd be doing otherwise).

Exactly. We live in an imperfect world. If the choice is making iPods, starving, or child prostitution, I'd think making iPods would be preferable. To the billions of people in poverty, these are (iPod) jobs sent from heaven.

I am not justifying it... I am simply looking at the realities of 7 billion people on the planet. We can't know where and how every part of every product that we purchase is made. We can't purchase a car, a toy, an electronics item, or even dog food and know that no child labor or sweat shops were involved.

This is what we CAN know: If the entire world stopped buying all products made with child labor, many of those children would starve to death or would otherwise be much worse off.

By afkrotch on 3/3/2010 10:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe Apple and some other companies need to setup shop in the Phillipines. Where a large number of your 15 year old girls decide to take up prostitution to make money.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki