Apple has reportedly removed Chinese manufacturer O’Film Group from its camera module supply chain, a report by TheElec claimed Thursday.
The reason for giving O’Film the boot reportedly involves its use of forced labor of marginalized Uighur people in China. O’Film modules are found in around 10 percent of iPhones. It supplied the triple camera and time of flight (ToF) modules for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.
Apple will supposedly outsource the assembly of modules to other contract maker such as Foxconn in 2021. The removal of O’Film Group will benefit LG InnoTek and Sharp, which produce similar modules for Apple.
O-Film, which has been in Apple’s supply chain since 2017, was accused of forced labor earlier this year. At the time, Apple told the BBC News that it had carried out several surprise audits on the company’s facilities and found found. “We have found no evidence of any forced labour on Apple production lines and we plan to continue monitoring,” Apple said. It’s unclear what — if anything — has changed since then.
This is the second recent shakeup we’ve heard about involving Apple’s supply chain. Last month, Apple placed Pegatron, one of its largest manufacturing partners, on probation after finding that the company made unauthorized use of students to carry out overtime and night shifts. This is a labor law violation.
Labor violations in the supply chain
Interestingly, the removal of O’Film Group for possible human rights violations against the Uighur people comes on the back of a report suggesting that Apple had tried to weaken a bill penalizing companies found exploiting forced labor. According to a recent report by the New York Times, Apple “lobbied to limit some provisions of the bill, said two congressional staff members and another person familiar with the matter.”
In response, Apple issued a statement saying that:
“Looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every supplier assessment we conduct and any violations of our policies carry immediate consequences, including business termination. Earlier this year, we conducted a detailed investigation with our suppliers in China and found no evidence of forced labor on Apple production lines and we are continuing to monitor this closely.”
Apple carries out most of its manufacturing with firms based in China. This has, on occasion, caused issues for the company. Apple is supposedly in the process of splitting its supply chain in two. One part will serve the Chinese market. The other will cater to other countries outside China.