Apple said in a report that major violations at its suppliers doubled in 2010. These major violations included underage and involuntary labor, falsification of audits, worker endangerment and other abuses. The supplier responsibility report comes as Apple has taken some heat for its supply chain. The suicides at Foxconn, the Chinese company that makes the iPad and other Apple devices, shed light on the issue. Here's the money graph from Apple:
In 2010, our audits of 127 facilities revealed 37 core violations: 18 facilities where workers had paid excessive recruitment fees, which we consider to be involuntary labor; ten facilities where underage workers had been hired; two instances of worker endangerment; four facilities where records were falsified; one case of bribery; and one case of coaching workers on how to answer auditors’ questions.
These audits are likely to create more than a few headlines. For perspective though, Apple is being transparent here. In addition, Apple's supply chain has grown so the company is also conducting more audits. In 2010, Apple completed first-time audits of 97 facilities and 30 repeat audits. Since 2007, Apple has audited 288 suppliers.
Apple also mapped conflict materials such as tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold in its supply chain.
Here are some of the key items Apple found in its supplier base.
- 18 facilities had foreign contract workers who paid excessive recruitment fees to labor agencies. Apple required these to suppliers to reimburse workers.
- 49 underage workers were discovered at 9 facilities. Suppliers were required to improve management systems and support the young workers return to school.
- In one facility there were 42 underage workers. Apple has terminated that supplier.
- 1 facility exposed workers to n-hexane in poorly ventilated areas. The facility had to stop using n-hexane and improve ventilation systems.
- 2 facilities falsified payroll records and provided misleading interview answers to Apple's audit team. Apple required another investigation.
- 1 facility manager offered to bribe Apple's third party auditors. Apple terminated business with the facility.
- 76 facilities had workers where working-hour limits more than 50 percent of the time. Apple sets a max at 60 hours per week with at least one day of rest per seven days. At 74 facilities, more than half of the records reviewed by Apple indicated employees worked more than six consecutive days at least once per month.