Apple releases supply chain report - details findings on child labour & worker illness from n-hexane, remedial steps; pledges greater cooperation with Chinese NGOs
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Author: Samuel Wade, China Digital Times
...Apple['s]...newly released 2011 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report...pledges greater cooperation with Chinese NGOs in the future...[The] report mentions...arrangements with NGOs Verité and the Fair Labor Association...It remains to be seen how far greater involvement of outsiders in Apple’s auditing will address concerns about lack of independent verification...On underage labour: "...Our audits of 127 facilities revealed ten Chinese factories that had hired workers under the age of 16 years, the minimum age for employment in China...we found one that had hired a much larger number of underage workers—a total of 42. In addition, we determined that management had chosen to overlook the issue...we terminated business with the facility...[On] the Wintek case: "...[We] learned that 137 workers at...Wintek, one of Apple’s suppliers, had suffered adverse health effects following exposure to n-hexane, a chemical in cleaning agents...We required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines...Since these changes, no new workers have suffered difficulties from chemical exposure." [also refers to suicides at Foxconn (part of Hon Hai)]
Author: compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Training and education - Apple introduced the Train-the-Trainer program in 2008, which educates workers, supervisors, and managers in facilities that make Apple products on things like the code of conduct, occupational health and safety, and workers' rights...A survey showed an increase in confidence among assembly line workers...that they can provide feedback without any concern of negative repercussions...
Protection - ...Apple now regulates against what it calls 'debt-bonded labor' by mandating that recruitment fees for the facilities it uses cannot exceed more than one month's wages...Apple also requires suppliers to reimburse overpaid fees for all contract workers...Since 2008, more than $3.4 million in overcharges have been returned...
[includes comments by Ma Jun of Institute for Public & Environmental Affairs; Debby Chan, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour; Geoff Crothall, China Labour Bulletin]
Author: Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph [UK]
Apple said that 91 children under the age of 16 were discovered to be working last year in ten Chinese factories owned by its suppliers. By comparison, in 2009, Apple said eleven underage workers had been discovered...Apple said it had “intensified” its search for workers under 16..However, it does not name individual suppliers, which makes it impossible for outside scrutiny of the firms involved... [also refers to Dell, HP, Foxconn, Wintek]
Author: Compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
On 20 January 2011 a coalition of NGOs led by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Green Beagle, issued a report entitled, "The Other Side of Apple". This report constitutes "Phase IV" of a series of reports documenting the response of 29 IT brands to allegations that their suppliers in China dump heavy metals into China's water bodies, singling Apple out as the least responsive of the brands. The report challenges the statement in Applies' Supplier Code of Conduct, which reads: “Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.” The authors of the report conclude: "After a difficult investigation we finally managed to clear away some of the dense fog that enshrouds Apple‘s supply chain. After comparing Apple‘s commitment with their actual performance we were surprised to find a brand with two such contrasting sides."...Apple spokespeople commented on the allegations in the following news articles...[also contains letter from the Chinese NGO coalition to Apple, news coverage of the report]
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Apple is committed to driving the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base. We require that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made...Apple’s approach to supplier responsibility extends beyond our audit program. We empower workers through training, educate factory management, address underlying issues with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and industry groups, and hold suppliers accountable for their practices...Apple continues to drive improvements that make a di∂ erence. In 2010, our supplier responsibility program included the following key activities...
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