Apple is the world’s second biggest company and the brand behind the world’s most desired gadgets – the iPhone and the iPad.
But it also has a poor record in managing its mostly China-based workforce.
Shenzhen-based Foxconn, the world’s biggest electronics manufacturer which makes Apple products, was hit by a spate of worker suicides at its plants in 2010.
NGOs such as Hong Kong-based SACOM have reported abuses such as forced overtime, health hazards, punishments for missing targets, and employment of under-age workers at Apple suppliers.
Now Apple has released its latest supplier responsibility report, which for the first time includes a full list of its suppliers – up to now they have been kept secret for commercial reasons.
Apple says it also plans to increase factory inspections in a bid to ensure suppliers are meeting their commitments on working conditions.
The US firm said it conducted 229 factory audits last year in which it found that employees at 93 factories had exceeded their “weekly working hour limits”, while payment violations at 108 facilities had been uncovered.
The company said it found that five factories had employed underage workers, though that was due to “insufficient controls to verify age or detect false documentation”.
Apple said in the report:
We have a zero-tolerance policy for underage labor, and we believe our system is the toughest in the electronics industry. In 2011, we broadened our age verification program and saw dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers.
Apple is committed to driving the highest standards for 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.
- To learn more about the Foxconn factories, which employ more than a million workers in China, listen to this podcast on NPR, Mr Daisy Goes to China – one man’s odyssey to find out how his devices are made.