Apple trumpets its plans for fixing factories


supplier factories
Apple says it continues to improve labor and environmental conditions with its suppliers.
Photo: Foxconn

Apple this week acknowledged it is still battling poor working conditions and environmental violations with some of its overseas supplier factories, but highlighted programs to solve ongoing issues, according to a company audit.

Apple’s annual Supplier Responsibility Report addressed conditions at 756 sites in 30 countries last year and scored facilities based on its Code of Conduct.

The audit of suppliers, released Wednesday, comes just weeks after the group China Labor Watch issued a damning report on one supplier, Catcher Technology Co. in Suqian, where a release of toxic gas last May sent more than 90 works to hospitals. The February report also highlighted a lack of protective equipment, poor living conditions and unfair treatment of contracted employees.

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Report did not cite problems at specific sites, though Catch Technology Co. was among the suppliers covered in the annual audit.

Apple’s report cites the violations found and the steps taken to correct issues. It also says it continues to provide safety training and inform workers of their rights.

Apple’s audit uncovered 1,560 cases of bonded labor, 38 false reports of working hours, three debt-bonded laborers and two underage labor violations. In one case, more than 700 workers were recruited from the Philippines by a private employment agency.

“At the core of every employee’s livelihood is a safe and healthy workplace where their rights are respected each day,” Apple said. “We’re committed to implementing responsible practices in our supply chain to make a positive impact on employee well-being.”

Apple said it forces suppliers to reimburse the workers and sign a non-retaliation agreement. The report said suppliers have distributed more than $30 million to remedy violations since 2008.

“We ensure safe channels for employees and suppliers to communicate concerns, and we continue to be recognized as a leader among all industries in efforts to eliminate this vicious practice,” Apple said.

In the two cases of underage labor, Apple said the workers falsified identification papers to get hired. Once discovered, the workers were sent home with pay from the supplier.

Apple said it is kicking off a women’s health program at supplier facilities in China and India. The program will address nutrition, personal care, maternal health and cancer detection.

Apple also boasted of progress in reducing waste, carbon emissions and water conservation efforts.

Every iPhone final assembly facility has zero waste certification. Apple estimates this saves 625 metric tons of waste that would otherwise go to landfills.

The company also said conservation efforts reduced annual carbon emission by 320,000 metric and reduced 13.6 billion gallons of water in the supply chain.

Source: Apple Insider