‘No forced labour’ in Apple’s supply chain

1 June 2021

Apple has said it found “no evidence of involuntary labour on any production lines” in its supply chain report.

In its annual supply chain responsibility report, the tech giant said its teams had conducted 1,121 supplier assessments in 53 countries in 2020 to “ensure compliance with our [Apple’s] code of conduct”, alongside independent audits.  

“Those assessments found no evidence of involuntary labour on any Apple production lines,” the report said.  

The report comes after a US Republican Congressman called on Apple to clarify business relationships the firm has with seven suppliers that have been linked to forced labour in the Xinjiang region of China

In the report Apple said there had been nine serious violations of its supplier code of conduct in 2020, down from 17 the previous year. 

Seven of these violations were related to “instances of working hours or labour data falsification”, Apple said. 

The firm said it had identified one facility that had “misclassified the student workers in their programme and falsified paperwork to disguise violations of our code, including allowing students to work nights and/or overtime, and in some cases, to perform work unrelated to their major”. 

The unnamed supplier was placed on probation with no new business from Apple until the issue was corrected, the report said. 

In addition to audits, Apple said it had surveyed almost 197,000 workers in 135 facilities across Greater China, India, Ireland, the UK, US, and Vietnam.

“As a result of these surveys, suppliers took 3,173 actions to address their employees’ feedback, including adding shuttle buses, reducing turnaround time for addressing worker grievances, increasing bonuses, and improving dorm maintenance,” it added.

Apple said more than 21m supplier employees in its supply chain had received human rights training since 2008.

Last month US Republican Congressman Ken Buck called on Apple boss Tim Cook to clarify Apple's relationships with several suppliers after media reports linked them to forced labour. 

“I hope you can appreciate the seriousness of the allegations that your company’s supply chain sources from at least seven companies that use forced labour,” Buck said. 

Meanwhile, factories in Vietnam that supply Apple have reportedly resorted to operating at a reduced capacity as the country battles a Covid outbreak. 

According to Reuters, an Apple supplier has split its workforce over two shifts, with a source describing it as a “temporary solution, for maybe two weeks”.

“Otherwise, the supply chain will be more or less disrupted,” said the source.

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