Apple 'terminated relationships' with 18 suppliers due to sustainability code violations

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
14 February 2015

Apple has “terminated relationships” with 18 suppliers to date because of violations of its code of conduct.

In its Supplier Responsibility 2015 Progress Report the company said suppliers were put on “probation” if “core violations”, such as underage or involuntary labour, false documentation, worker intimidation or significant environmental impacts, were uncovered by audits.

“Any supplier with a core violation is placed on probation until successful completion of their next audit,” said the report. “During probation issues are monitored closely and if we believe that the supplier is not truly committed to change, we terminated the relationship. To date, we have terminated relationships with 18 suppliers.”

Apple said audits were carried out at 633 facilities in 2014 and there was 85 per cent compliance with its prevention of involuntary labour policy, 95 per cent compliance with prevention of underage labour and 92 per cent compliance with its working hours policy. Overall compliance with labour and human rights policies was 81 per cent.

There were 12 active cases of underage labour and four further historical cases where the worker was underage when first hired. “Apple-mandated remediation included the suppliers returning the young worker to school, financing their education and providing income to the workers matching what they received while employed,” said the report.

The report said 24 facilities were found to be discriminating if a woman was pregnant and 20 facilities were conducting medical tests as a pre-condition for employment. “All violators were mandated to immediately cease discriminatory practices and implement anti-discrimination management procedures,” said the report.

Apple said because of its audits more than $3.96 million was repaid to foreign contract workers for excessive recruitment fees charged by labour brokers, nearly $900,000 was paid to workers for unpaid overtime and the number of smelters verified as conflict-free doubled.

Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations at Apple, said: “Around the globe, Apple employees are united in bringing equality, respect for human rights and protection of the environment to the deepest levels of our supply chain. While we have made significant progress, gaps still exist, and there is more work to do. We know that workers are counting on us. We will not stop until every person in our supply chain is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

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