Apple Finds Supplier Used Child Labor
January 25, 2013

Apple Gets Tough On Underage Workers

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

In recent years, Apple´s main manufacturer, Foxconn, has come under fire for its hiring practices and working conditions. Under Tim Cook, the company has stepped up their commitment to ensure a safe workplace for their employees and the employees of each of their partners. According to a new report from the Cupertino company, they performed 393 audits of their major suppliers last year in an effort to find underage workers, low wages, excessive overtime and discrimination. It was discovered during these audits one of their suppliers was found to have 74 underage workers employed at the company. In accordance with their policies, Apple has now severed ties with this company and has reported the violation to local authorities.

Apple said they discovered several dozen underage employees during their audit of Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics (PZ). Apple said they reported the supplier and the labor agency responsible for sending out underage workers to Chinese authorities. This labor agency has been found to have worked with the children´s families to create fake documents in order to get the children jobs at PZ. This labor agency has had their license suspended and been issued a fine, according to Apple´s report.

"The children were returned to their families, and PZ was required to pay expenses to facilitate their successful return," said Apple in their Supplier Responsibility Report.

"In addition, the company that subcontracted its work to PZ was prompted by our findings to audit its other subcontractors for underage labor violations -- proving that one discovery can have far-reaching impact."

Though Apple discovered these underage workers last January, they´ve only now disclosed this information to the public in their latest Progress Report. The company also says they´ve provided a guidebook to help their suppliers distinguish fake IDs from legitimate ones to help ensure they only hire workers of legal age. With these practices in place, Apple´s suppliers are then able to revise their own policies and create action plans to prevent hiring underage employees.

Apple´s 393 audits last year represent a 72% increase over their 2011 audits. In addition to looking for underage workers and unsafe labor conditions, Apple´s auditors are also looking for environmental concerns, as well as ensuring responsible recruitment practices.

Thanks to these audits, Apple said they´ve achieved a 92% supplier compliance rate, a significant increase over last year´s 38% compliance rate.

In an interview with the New York Times, senior vice president of operations at Apple Jeff Williams said the company has begun to look even more closely at some of their smaller suppliers in order to ensure 100% compliance.

“We go deep in the supply chain to find it,” said Mr. Williams, speaking to the Times. “And when we do find it, we ensure that the underage workers are taken care of, the suppliers are dealt with.”

The iPhone maker said they´ve begun tracking more than 1 million workers in their supply chain to ensure compliance and will post the results each month on their website.