Apple uncovers 22 labour violations

17 January 2012
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17 January 2012 | Adam Leach

World-leading technology company Apple has reported labour and human rights violations at 22 facilities in its supply chain during 2011.

The Apple supplier responsibility: 2012 progress report, published yesterday, disclosed a number of breaches relating to involuntary and underage labour and the action taken to address them.

The report, largely based on 229 audits carried out by the company in 2011, disclosed that two facilities were found to have been repeat offenders on the grounds of involuntary labour. Apple responded by terminating the contract with one facility and working to correct the practices of the other.

Apple’s supplier audits also uncovered instances of factory workers having been required to pay excessive recruitment fees to agencies. In response, Apple required all offending companies to reimburse workers and over the year, $3.3 million (£2.1 million) was repaid.

The report disclosed that six active and 13 historical cases of underage labour across five facilities had been detected. The report said: “In each case, the facility had insufficient controls to verify age or detect false documentation. We found no instance of intentional hiring of underage labour.” Following the revelations, Apple required offending companies to support getting workers back into school and to improve detection and age verification processes to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The number of audits carried out in the year equated to an 80 per cent increase from 2010. During the year, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing criticised Apple over an apparent lack of transparency about its supply chain.

Yesterday, it was announced that Apple is the first technology firm to sign up to participate in the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending sweatshop conditions in factories worldwide. This means Apple will allow the FLA to independently assess its supplier facilities. Auret van Heerden, FLA president and CEO, said: “Apple takes supplier responsibility seriously and we look forward to its participation.”

Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations at Apple, said: “Last year we performed more than 200 audits at our supplier’s facilities around the world. With the benefit of the FLA’s experience and expertise, we will continue to drive improvements for workers and provide even greater transparency into our supply chain.”


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