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Apple: Our Supplier Factories Employed Minors

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 57 comments

Apple has said that it has found 17 labor violations at its factories. The one garnering most attention is the use of underage employees.

Apple has released its 2010 Supplier Responsibility report (PDF), revealing that three of its suppliers have hired underage workers. Though these employees were either no longer working at the factories or no longer underage at the time of the audit, Apple's inspectors found records of 11 employees who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age. However, child labor was not the only violation uncovered by the audit.

Apple also found more than 50 factories that forced employees to work longer than Apple's maximum 60-hour weeks. Some facilities were depriving staff of benefits such as sick leave. All told, the inspectors uncovered 17 violations; a 'core violation' is considered the most serious class of violation. "It refers to any practice or situation that we consider to be contrary to the core principles underlying Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct," Apple said.

Three of these violations were cases of falsifying records. That is, factories tried to cover up other violations by presenting inspectors with records that had been tampered with. One had tried to cover up hiring underage workers in the past, while the other two tried to cover up the fact that employees were overworked and not awarded days of rest. One facility falsified these records two years running. The company was caught in both 2008 and 2009.

Apple also found a staggering number of facilities that were not paying staff correctly:

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. In most of these cases, the facility’s pay structure for regular hours depended on attendance-related bonuses to meet minimum wage requirements; without these bonuses, there was no guarantee that the minimum wage would be met. We also found 15 facilities where the facility’s pay structure was unnecessarily complex and could result in underpayment of wages.

Other violations include excessive recruitment fees and three cases where suppliers contracted with non-certified vendors for hazardous waste disposal.

When a core violation is detected, Apple requires that the facility remedy the situation immediately, as well as implement management systems that ensure continued compliance. The facility is also placed on probation for a period of one year, ending with a reaudit to ensure the violation has not reoccurred.

Apple inspected 102 facilities across China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States.

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  • 23 Hide
    snurp85 , March 1, 2010 12:35 PM
    slymaelstrom - 60 hours a week is alot. 10 hour days 6 days a week for less than minimum wage and no overtime. Not to mention, 60 hour weeks for teenagers?!??! The fact that apple charges so much for their computers and yet their pays their employees so little is outlandish.

    steddy - Apple clearly is not doing anything about this problem despite knowing about it. These reports are published every year and have consistently shown the have recurring problems. It would seem that Apple is okay with workshops.
Other Comments
  • -2 Hide
    SlyMaelstrom , March 1, 2010 12:12 PM
    This is lame... so they were underage when they were hired but aren't underage, now, which likely means they were hired maybe six months to a year before they reached legal age. It's not like we're talking about little eight year old soldering resistors onto motherboards 15 hours a day... we're talking about a manager hiring a teenage off the books so he can pay for clothes or school supplies.

    Also, sixty hours a week isn't an overwhelming amount of time... granted that "forcing" people to work that amount of time is pretty uncouth in the USA and most modern civilization, but it's pretty common practice in your poorer countries to work long hours in order to pay the bills.

    I'm not trying to say that these aren't bad things, but clearly Apple is taking an initiative on fixing them which is pretty noble when you consider that companies like Nike have employers in India that literally OWN the children that work for them and are treated like slaves while the corporate side just denies it all.
  • 4 Hide
    steddy , March 1, 2010 12:16 PM
    Isn't the title of the article a bit harsh? It was the suppliers that were hiring underage workers, not Apple itself. Also, congrats to Apple for cracking down on this sort of thing.
  • 4 Hide
    Pei-chen , March 1, 2010 12:34 PM
    So kids can't have jobs now? I remember working at a computer shop when I was 15 so I can buy parts for my computer and other goodies.
  • -4 Hide
    christopherknapp , March 1, 2010 12:35 PM
    Totally lame article. The above posters have it spot on.
  • 23 Hide
    snurp85 , March 1, 2010 12:35 PM
    slymaelstrom - 60 hours a week is alot. 10 hour days 6 days a week for less than minimum wage and no overtime. Not to mention, 60 hour weeks for teenagers?!??! The fact that apple charges so much for their computers and yet their pays their employees so little is outlandish.

    steddy - Apple clearly is not doing anything about this problem despite knowing about it. These reports are published every year and have consistently shown the have recurring problems. It would seem that Apple is okay with workshops.
  • 3 Hide
    donovands , March 1, 2010 12:56 PM
    Apple is a drop in the bucket. There's a reason nothing is manufactured in the West anymore. It's far better for a company's bottom line to get cheap labor in 3rd world countries. How can a Western country compete with a labor force that works twice as long for a tiny fraction of the cost? Imagine what Apple products would cost if manufactured in the US?
  • 4 Hide
    thackstonns , March 1, 2010 1:02 PM
    slymaelstromI'm not trying to say that these aren't bad things, but clearly Apple is taking an initiative on fixing them which is pretty noble when you consider that companies like Nike have employers in India that literally OWN the children that work for them and are treated like slaves while the corporate side just denies it all.


    Really I didnt see anything noble in there, as a matter of fact I saw the exact opposite. You point me to the place in the story where Apple pulls the factories contract because of the violations, and I will agree. Until then apple hasnt done anything besides run a report.

    you know Toms its funny the dumb ads and feedback expand everytime I roll over them by accident, but half the time the damn submit button doesnt work. Maybe you should fix that.
  • 3 Hide
    deadlockedworld , March 1, 2010 1:03 PM
    ArtificialintelYou would think this would generate good press for Apple, considering that they're the only ones attempting to enforce any kind of labor rules amongst their suppliers. I guess the lesson learned for corporate America is: don't investigate if your suppliers are compliant, and don't tell anyone if you find your suppliers aren't compliant. Good job, all of you outraged at Apple over them releasing the report of their own audit!


    This is exactly right. Apple cared enough to find out and now the press is trying to screw them for it. I guarantee all the parts suppliers use child labor...
  • -4 Hide
    deadlockedworld , March 1, 2010 1:07 PM
    thackstonnsReally I didnt see anything noble in there, as a matter of fact I saw the exact opposite. You point me to the place in the story where Apple pulls the factories contract because of the violations, and I will agree. Until then apple hasnt done anything besides run a report.


    If you read the full report (or read it from a news source that writes in longer than 3-paragraph stories) you would see that they ARE challenging/renegotiating contracts with supplier companies because of the violations.
  • 6 Hide
    Kelavarus , March 1, 2010 1:08 PM
    I pretty much laugh at anyone complaining about child labor after having traveled the world for 5 years. 90% of the time, they NEED those jobs. They're not (technically) being forced into it, they don't have a choice because they need the money for their family. Then the Western world gets involved and takes their job away from them and only puts them into more poverty while saying "Hey, look, now we've saved you!"
  • -2 Hide
    Silmarunya , March 1, 2010 1:14 PM
    KelavarusI pretty much laugh at anyone complaining about child labor after having traveled the world for 5 years. 90% of the time, they NEED those jobs. They're not (technically) being forced into it, they don't have a choice because they need the money for their family. Then the Western world gets involved and takes their job away from them and only puts them into more poverty while saying "Hey, look, now we've saved you!"


    And the fact they need this job is even more outrageous. If this people could finish secondary school, they'd be able to read, write, understand their basic rights and have a rudimentary grasp of maths and economics. In other words, they'd have skills to build a better future not a single aid initiative could dream of achieving.
  • 6 Hide
    chomlee , March 1, 2010 1:18 PM
    TheJohDamn you people make me sick. All of these violations and you are defending Apple? Why do you think they hire in those countries listed? Cause they can get away with almost anything to save a buck.


    First off, I admit that I hate Apple. I feel like they are nothing but profit mongers. Saying that, I will also admit that to even have policies like this where they watch thier suppliers and subcontracts is very noble. All electronics companies use subcontractors and suppliers and you would be surprized the human violations involved. For example, I love Asus computers but I wouldn't be surprized that their suppliers would have even more violations (especially since they arent a US company).

    It's an unfortunate fact today. If people want something cheap, it will be made with cheap labor. If you look at the things the average family has been able to afford over the past 30-40 years, they have increased dramatically mainly because of forein cheap labor (Wal-Mart is a perfect example).

    Anyhow, as much as I dislike Apple, I give them kudos for having a policy to minimize human rights violations.
  • 3 Hide
    blasterth , March 1, 2010 1:22 PM
    Now I know why Apple products are so cheap.
    No wait ...
  • -6 Hide
    dman3k , March 1, 2010 1:23 PM
    Boycott Apple
  • -1 Hide
    brendano257 , March 1, 2010 1:26 PM
    Congratz to Apple for cracking down and actually releasing this. It's not like they had to release this, they could have swept it under the rug, but they obviously care enough to try to fix it. As for people who think Apple is the devil, what percentage of PC parts are made with child labor? Also this is not Apple's fault, it is their suppliers that hired the children or underpayed/overworked employees, not Apple.
  • 2 Hide
    chomlee , March 1, 2010 1:27 PM
    SilmarunyaAnd the fact they need this job is even more outrageous. If this people could finish secondary school, they'd be able to read, write, understand their basic rights and have a rudimentary grasp of maths and economics. In other words, they'd have skills to build a better future not a single aid initiative could dream of achieving.


    What you may not realize is that many forein countries have their high school education at the same level of many colleges in the US. Believe it or not, the US is known for its education mainly because of the graduate programs.

    Our company put an office in Costa Rica, and there are tons of Engineers with college degrees working fixing cars or working as a cashier because they cant find an engineering job.

    Dont get me wrong, I am all for education, nothing bad can happen if you have an educated society, but there are some countries that already have a decent education system and they are still borderline 3rd world countries because of the corruption/poverty levels.
  • 3 Hide
    omnimodis78 , March 1, 2010 1:33 PM
    brendano257Congratz to Apple for cracking down and actually releasing this. It's not like they had to release this, they could have swept it under the rug, but they obviously care enough to try to fix it. As for people who think Apple is the devil, what percentage of PC parts are made with child labor? Also this is not Apple's fault, it is their suppliers that hired the children or underpayed/overworked employees, not Apple.

    They did this for the exact reason you just proved! It's a PR strategy, perhaps one of the oldest in the book of corporate public relations. I'm not saying it's good or bad, I am just saying, nothing is every done out of the goodness of the heart, Apple, after-all, is about the same thing as every single corporation - money! How they make money? If you buy their products, and such "news" shows that they are 'ethical' and 'caring' and you might be inclined to buy their product. It works. Unfortunately, all their stuff is made in Asian countries, do you really believe (think about this) that there's only 11 minors sucked into the vacuum of cheap labor in their factories/suppliers? Come on...
  • 6 Hide
    Abrahm , March 1, 2010 1:42 PM
    I don't think it's fair to knock Apple for this, as I'm sure it is just as common with all of the other manufacturers.
  • 4 Hide
    Dirty Durden , March 1, 2010 1:49 PM
    When will Apple & others like Apple bring back these jobs to America. There is 70% high school drop out rate in SOME schools in America. What will the drop out do for work, move to China. We are headed for Greece & France where our young are burning car & braking windows stores. We are killing the middle class in America. America needs to wake up & starting buying products made in the the U.S.A.
  • 6 Hide
    tipoo , March 1, 2010 2:00 PM
    Its just underage kids that are underpaid and unfairly treated. Not that Big a deal.


    Steve

    Sent from my child-made iPhone.
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