Apple supplier report reveals the use of child labor

Recently, the company Apple, well known for its Mac, iPod and iPhone products, issued a report on its suppliers and how well they perform in respect to the guidelines they were given by the Cupertino-based company. Worryingly, the report revealed that three suppliers used by Apple had been employing eleven 15 year old workers in total, with one even covering it up to prevent any issues.

Amongst the discoveries of underage labor were also reports of 50 factories keeping workers busy for longer than is allowed (60 hours per week), along with 24 paying employees less than minimum wage. According to Gizmodo, only 61% factories met the required safety standards, and a frighteningly low 57% had the appropriate environmental permits. Some argue that 15 years old is more of a legal issue than a moral one, as in the United States, many 15 year olds are employed at various workplaces.

While undesirable working conditions for vast amounts of people are certainly troubling, there is more to it: most of the suppliers that were audited by Apple revealed that this was the first and only time it had happened to them, with a large amount of other companies seemingly absent in regard to the supplier responsibility (or irresponsibility, as the case may be, though keep in mind that there are still huge amounts of companies that do ensure good standards). Last year, Apple audited a grand total of 133,000 workers, up from a mere 2,000 in 2007, showing that the company is doing its part in order to provide a safe workplace for those who make its products. Either way you look at it, it doesn't bode well for Apple and other related companies, though at least an effort is being made to help make the workplaces safer and simply better in general. 

Thanks to Shayla for the tip

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I'll tell ya, Im not a big fan of apple at all, Hate the overpriced products whatever. This news article is rediculous. Your going to be the Joe Wilcox of Betanews if you post this type of crap again Mr. Sam

Whatever the fact is about Apple's labor is that they get it CHEAP and still overcharge for their hardware. Wonder if they will use it as an excuse to raise their tax even more: "we cleaned up and got rid of the child labor so we have to raise our prices to compensate for the increased wages".

One simple word...

OUTSOURCE

Regardless of working conditions, hours worked, under paid... As long as they produce the required goods at a pricecwhich is far less cheaper than being manufactured in the UK or USA they outsource to organisations which will do their work for less money.

Welcome to the world of Outsource.

Love the Apple zealots trying to justify this....funny...

Anyway, the fact is that they tried to cover it up so they knew it was wrong in the first place. Kinda makes you think what else are they doing.

I would like to add to this conversation.....

A couple of thoughts, several have commented about how other companies also use these suppliers and why aren't they being criticized for their sins as well. I have read a great deal and watched interviews and press conferences from Steve Jobs and Apple should be targeted. Apple and Jobs make social comment about energy, and other social issues from time to time, so they open themselves up and Americans should care about who is making their toys that we play with. The only reason they are made in China or other overseas factories is that we along with our other European countries don't want to pay $250 (a guess) for an Ipod when we only have to pay $149 for one produced in China.

Secondly, It is not so much an legal issue as an ethical one. I remember a few years ago, when a clothes designer was practically tared and feathered (not really but you get the idea) because some of her clothes being sold at Wa-Mart and other stores were being produced in Central America in sweat shops......Why should Apple be any different. No more different than Nike, Adidas, or a host of other appeal companies that exploit the poor countries so they can make massive profits and pay massive promotional contracts to sports figures that are extremely poor role models (I know, a seperate issue).

Finally, ultimately it is up to the vendor, ie. Apple, Microsoft, Nike, Wal-Mart, etc. etc. etc to make sure that their products are not being produced with exploited or slave or prison laobr. Not a problem in the United States for the most part, however, Americans and other members of the world community also share part of the blame for this..... we want a cheap product that full-fills our needs at the lowest price possible and damn the consequesnces for that philosophy. Maybe we should focus more on this issue.....Here today, forgotten tomorrow.....Sad but True

Apple didn't do anything wrong? come on, Apple is known to keep its supplier under a tight leash. It threatens to drop the supplier if even a slightest picture or any info about their product leaks out through them. If Apple was serious about these child labour, working condition and underpay, they could very well threaten them again to drop the supplier unless improvements were made. like someone mentioned above, looks like instead of someone else busting them, they busted themselves to prevent more damage.

d4diesel said,
Apple didn't do anything wrong? come on, Apple is known to keep its supplier under a tight leash. It threatens to drop the supplier if even a slightest picture or any info about their product leaks out through them. If Apple was serious about these child labour, working condition and underpay, they could very well threaten them again to drop the supplier unless improvements were made. like someone mentioned above, looks like instead of someone else busting them, they busted themselves to prevent more damage.

I'm pretty sure neither you nor I know what Apple has or hasn't done about the situation.

You know, if these ****ing manufacturers would build stuff in the US, that stuff would be a rare occurrence. GOD FORBID a company invest in it's own market by providing some jobs.

Most of that falls back on the shoulders of unions. Most unions workers make way too money for the work they do because of some contract, which also serves to drive prices higher. Sometimes companies have no choice but to bend to the unions as those companies just can't afford pull up stakes and relocate.

FrozenEclipse said,
But...but....it's Apple!!! They can do no wrong!!!

Apple motto :"blame someone else",for example iphone 3g/2g coverage is petty :blame at&t, iphone battery is a joke :blame the battery manufacturer.

Why are we talking about Apple exclusively? Foxconn (I'm guessing this is the supplier in question) makes the Wii, the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Amazon Kindle too.

RPDL said,
Why are we talking about Apple exclusively? Foxconn (I'm guessing this is the supplier in question) makes the Wii, the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Amazon Kindle too.

Foxconn does not make the Xbox, Flextronics International makes the Xbox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flextronics

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/correct-microsoft-factory-in-china-to-make-new-zunes

RPDL said,
Why are we talking about Apple exclusively? Foxconn (I'm guessing this is the supplier in question) makes the Wii, the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Amazon Kindle too.

Because Apple was self-praising about those facts.

A Geek Of All said,

Foxconn does not make the Xbox, Flextronics International makes the Xbox.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flextronics

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/correct-microsoft-factory-in-china-to-make-new-zunes

I'm not exactly sure in what way or to what extent, but Foxconn is also involved in the production of the Xbox 360.

http://www.dailytech.com/Sony+Sources+Foxconn+to+Help+Manufacture+PS3/article8894.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn

Not the best sources, but still.

I could swear when i read this article earlier it was different.... however, clearly i made a mistake.

If Apple has indeed looking into this and demanded change then good for them. I'm happy to be wrong.

The use of child and low pay workers in large corporations is an issue we all get very passionate as many of us disagree with our own current rate of pay and feel we deserve more and when large companies do things wrong we take it as a personal afront.

Using the example of Nike, if a company produced a shoe. Sells it for $200 to a person on the street. We do not expect the total cost of production (including labor) to be less then $10 (please note this is a guess, not an actual figure). I truly believe if people knew how much you are paying compaired to how much the company paid making it, a lot of people would stop buying.

I hope Apple can be a leader for other companies to start investigating how their products are produced. The CEO's of them companies have families too. How would they like to know their children are working for less then minimum wage.

crashguy said,
Using the example of Nike, if a company produced a shoe. Sells it for $200 to a person on the street. We do not expect the total cost of production (including labor) to be less then $10 (please note this is a guess, not an actual figure). I truly believe if people knew how much you are paying compaired to how much the company paid making it, a lot of people would stop buying.

The mother of a childhood friend of mine used to go to Thailand, I think it was, once a year on business. Each time she came back, she would bring 20-30 pairs of Nike shoes straight from the factory. She paid $15 USD per pair.

It costs Nike next to nothing to make their shoes, and the same goes for every other manufacturer, no matter what they make.

Kudos Apple.

Just a personal opinion. All these Apple bashing just tilt me more towards Apple's effort to make a difference and doing the right thing, instead of turning a blind eye.

To those who bash Apple, make sure you don't wear Nike, or any of the branded clothes, as most are manufactured in developing countries nowadays (China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc) and child labor in these factories are just so common that most people in western countries either simply are not aware or they chose to turn a blind eye.

Is it possible that Apple knew something wasn't right and were afraid of getting busted so they busted themselves to make themselves look good?

speedstr3789 said,
Is it possible that Apple knew something wasn't right and were afraid of getting busted so they busted themselves to make themselves look good?

That's what first came to my mind.

That is exactly what happened. It's pure PR BS and people are just lapping it up. Apple doesn't give a **** about child labor if it gets them cheaper products.

Wow, a lot of people like to comment before reading.

Anyway, this isn't anything to get too excited about. Apple doesn't really deserve any credit here until they tell us what they plan to do about the situation. Are they gong to enforce their guidelines? Are they going to drop suppliers who have not held the standards they agreed to?

Auditing takes ignorance out of the equation but nothing will change unless Apple takes action. So Apple, what's your next course of action?

Thank you to all the hard working (sic) union types & over paid executives who have driven every sort of manufacturing out of the United States. We wouldn't be in this mess if you hadn't killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

lol I'm only half joking. Most kids these days are useless morons thanks to the public education system and **** poor parenting (at least in America) and they have no work ethic.

I do believe if a child is old enough to dress and feed himself, then he or she should work or at least be allowed to work. Not in dangerous jobs of course, but something simple like maybe some basic janitorial work, simple assembly work, or something like bussing tables in a restaurant.

And definitely not 40+ hours a week, but just a few hours a day. It would teach them responsibility and work ethics and let them earn a little money.

As for my sweat shop remark, while I'm not an expert on the subject, I do believe no one is really forced to work in them and children definitely shouldn't be working in them.

SyntaxError said,
lol I'm only half joking. Most kids these days are useless morons thanks to the public education system and **** poor parenting (at least in America) and they have no work ethic.

I do believe if a child is old enough to dress and feed himself, then he or she should work or at least be allowed to work. Not in dangerous jobs of course, but something simple like maybe some basic janitorial work, simple assembly work, or something like bussing tables in a restaurant.

And definitely not 40+ hours a week, but just a few hours a day. It would teach them responsibility and work ethics and let them earn a little money.

As for my sweat shop remark, while I'm not an expert on the subject, I do believe no one is really forced to work in them and children definitely shouldn't be working in them.


They are indirecyly forced; They have no money, food, etc and have to do it.

logiosasuna said,

They are indirecyly forced; They have no money, food, etc and have to do it.

They are indirectly forced to work at these by the very people that claim it is bad. If everyone has such a big problem with kids working at them, those people should realize they are just continuing the cycle. Those kids are forced to work somewhere if they need food/money/etc. They work at these places because there is nowhere else to work. Wouldn't it be easier to create places where these kids could legally work? They are going to work regardless if they need the money. At least give them an alternative instead of taking away every possibly means of making money.

I'm all for child labor. Put the otherwise useless **** machines to work doing something productive.

I don't have a problem with sweat shops either. No one forces people to work in them, plus it's only natural that the strong exploit the weak. That's just how life is.

SyntaxError said,
I'm all for child labor. Put the otherwise useless **** machines to work doing something productive.

I don't have a problem with sweat shops either. No one forces people to work in them, plus it's only natural that the strong exploit the weak. That's just how life is.

I can't tell if you're joking or not.

I think it's interesting that Apple is making deals with these manufacturers, which are likely cheap deals, and then going back to them with requirements like this, when they likely have to cut corners in order to make a profit with what Apple is paying them...

I'm not saying it's right what the factories are doing, but this comes down from the top, and Apple needs to realize that...

Why is this being blown out of proportion? Don't 15 year old's work here in the US? It is pathetic that people complain about this practice when in fact it happens here in the US. People also need to remember that those kids might be the bread earners for their entire family as they dont have the luxuries like in the US.

From 2006

iPod maker admits breaking Chinese labor laws; says Apple approved sweatshop labor
http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/9988

The Cult Of Apple
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sNELSY83hU

Apple has become even WORSE than it was Microsoft in 1995. Don't you realize how things have changed? Is this a "cool" company anymore?
I really don't think so.

DaveGreen said,
Apple has become even WORSE than it was Microsoft in 1995. Don't you realize how things have changed? Is this a "cool" company anymore?
I really don't think so.
There is no such thing as a "cool" company.

DaveGreen said,
Apple has become even WORSE than it was Microsoft in 1995. Don't you realize how things have changed? Is this a "cool" company anymore?
I really don't think so.

Please read before posting rubbish.

What people seem to miss is the difference between working in a supermarket or a convenience store, and working in a mass-producing factory where not only are you a number in thousands upon thousands of other employees. Anyone who has seen how production is done in China knows that it's almost run like an army of people. It's appalling.

These kids should be in school, simple as. Education is key in developing countries - if the kids are supporting their whole families, that country needs more social programs to support it.

So, good on Apple for picking up on it and doing something about this problem. The kids that worked there will be put into an unfortunate situation, but look at this in the grand scheme of things: no more (hopefully) will be hired. Short term pain, long term gain: the next generation has one less place to get work.

Anyone who thinks Apple planned this all along, and won't actually do anything: they've now caught the attention of every single group that is remotely involved with protecting children from abuse and child labor. They won't be able to get away with it anymore.

So were the kids trieated poorly? Honestly, unless working conditions are poor, I don't see the big problem with allowing some 15 year olds (which isn't really all that young) make some money working for the company. People complain about everything...

From the title I thought they were using 8 year olds as slave labor or something, but 15? What is the problem here again?

Apple is a corporation, and all it cares about is making money. Child labor saves money. Moral of the story, corporations are evil.

s3n4te said,
Apple is a corporation, and all it cares about is making money. Child labor saves money. Moral of the story, corporations are evil.

Read the article.

This report was done by Apple to ensure their suppliers were keeping in line with safe and legal production rules. What they did here was a GOOD thing, assuming something was done about it afterwards.

s3n4te said,
Apple is a corporation, and all it cares about is making money. Child labor saves money. Moral of the story, corporations are evil.
If what you said were true, Apple would have tried to cover up the fact that their suppliers used child labor, not to EXPOSE IT and then PUT IT IN THE NEWS to TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT.

Holy living hell. This entire line of comments with few exceptions reeks of stupidity and brain damage. Where are you guys breeding?

Edited by Northgrove, Feb 28 2010, 1:56am :

Northgrove said,
If what you said were true, Apple would have tried to cover up the fact that their suppliers used child labor, not to EXPOSE IT and then PUT IT IN THE NEWS to TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT.

Holy living hell. This entire line of comments with few exceptions reeks of stupidity and brain damage. Where are you guys breeding?

Because responsible companies looking into companies they do business with. Especially large companies like Apple. They have to, because the bad practices of companies they work with will create negative publicity. Just like this article will.

s3n4te said,
Apple is a corporation, and all it cares about is making money. Child labor saves money. Moral of the story, corporations are evil.

LOL, that's a rather broad opinion... A lot of corporations do a lot of good as well... I think it's unreasonable to make such an assumption...

Hell to this I had 2 paper rounds when I was 11 and have worked all my life since then. I agree with a company that takes on anyone especially in under-developed countries where at the end of the day income to a child could make the difference between living and dying. For me this has nothing to do with Apple/MS/Google, regardless of the company doing it, if children are working and being paid and that makes the difference between them living or dying, then I say let them work. What I disagree with though is if any company has forced the factory to hire cheap labour and enforce things like this just to keep prices down and increase profits, if they did this on purpose that's just plain damn wrong.

I have classmates that started working at different places such as supermarkets when they were just 15. It's perfectly normal, I really fail to see the point of this article.

LoveGod said,
I have classmates that started working at different places such as supermarkets when they were just 15. It's perfectly normal, I really fail to see the point of this article.

Yes, but this is factory work, when only 61 percent of the factories met the required safety requirements (And factories are dangerous even with good safety guidelines)... In the US we can work at 15 as well, but not in factories or other industries considered less safe... I'm not against 15 year old's being able to work, but people have to have sense about what industries they put them in...

And working at a supermarket and in a factory are two VERY different things.

Huh? 15 yrs is the minimum age u can get hired at. What's this nonsense article? Everything is perfectly fine and legal. Geez

Why this is being used as an excuse to attack Apple is beyond me, it's not them employing the underage labour, it's Apple that are reporting it. All attacking them will do is discourage other companies from making such audits on their own factories, and making child labour an even bigger issue!

In the end though, this won't affect them. If a company like Microsoft or Google did, there would be a rain of attack on them. Apple is like a cute girl, they can get away with anything and seem sweet while doing it.

crashguy said,
In the end though, this won't affect them. If a company like Microsoft or Google did, there would be a rain of attack on them. Apple is like a cute girl, they can get away with anything and seem sweet while doing it.

well geez...that's the biggest load of BS i think ive ever read, thanks!

crashguy said,
In the end though, this won't affect them. If a company like Microsoft or Google did, there would be a rain of attack on them. Apple is like a cute girl, they can get away with anything and seem sweet while doing it.

wtf. Did you not read the article either? APPLE didn't do anything, what are you even commenting on? The only thing Apple did was to get to the bottom of things regarding their suppliers, and three of them were busted. How in the flying f'k is that a bad thing?

Edited by Northgrove, Feb 28 2010, 1:23am :

fixxxer2010 said,
so where does all of this massive money apple gets go? that's right, in steve jobs pocket. for shame apple!
Huh? Apple doesn't like this either, that's why they're publicizing this report and trying to do something about it. IF Steve was as evil as you think, he would of course not even have begun an investigation, and tried to hide it.

Edited by Northgrove, Feb 28 2010, 12:17am :

While not cool, the fact of an attempted cover up makes me worry.

I'm all for getting kids into work, and giving them something to do, but the attempted cover up makes me wonder about the conditions and pay these kids was getting.

Elven said,
While not cool, the fact of an attempted cover up makes me worry.

I'm all for getting kids into work, and giving them something to do, but the attempted cover up makes me wonder about the conditions and pay these kids was getting.

Well, conditions and pay were also addressed in this article, and are also of concern... Safety alone is a pretty big deal IMO...

i guess you need small hands to work with some of the components....

we live on the other side of the planet, where we can CHOOSE not to work, instead study (or go on benefits), we arent starving for food! remember that!

Soldiers33 said,
they might be underage but atleast iot saves them from being on street
Yeah, it's kind of a complex problem. The culture in China and a number of other countries is different than here, and if put against child prostitution as an obvious alternative for many, it suddenly doesn't look so bad. But yes, it's still not something that should be strived for.

Actually I think it's good. Not many companies do this and know they can get on their suppliers. As for the age thing....I started working at 15 so it's really not a huge issue

Kayle12 said,
Actually I think it's good. Not many companies do this and know they can get on their suppliers. As for the age thing....I started working at 15 so it's really not a huge issue

Yes, but this is factory work, when only 61 percent of the factories met the required safety requirements... In the US we can work at 15 as well, but not in factories or other industries considered less safe... I'm not against 15 year old's being able to work, but people have to have sense about what industries they put them in...

M_Lyons10 said,

Yes, but this is factory work, when only 61 percent of the factories met the required safety requirements... In the US we can work at 15 as well, but not in factories or other industries considered less safe... I'm not against 15 year old's being able to work, but people have to have sense about what industries they put them in...

I have worked in factories at the age of 13 during school term holidays (June & Dec) and at 14, worked in a hazardous factory that does electroplating of PCBs. So, age is not really an issue in my opinion. There are plenty of low income families in Asian countries, and the kids go to work during school term breaks just to earn extra cash to fund their studies.

chaicka said,

I have worked in factories at the age of 13 during school term holidays (June & Dec) and at 14, worked in a hazardous factory that does electroplating of PCBs. So, age is not really an issue in my opinion. There are plenty of low income families in Asian countries, and the kids go to work during school term breaks just to earn extra cash to fund their studies.

It has to be said I envy you, I wouldn't say it's a normal kid's dream but I'd have loved to work on PCBs and whatnot when I was that age.

Kayle12 said,
Actually I think it's good. Not many companies do this and know they can get on their suppliers. As for the age thing....I started working at 15 so it's really not a huge issue

Different countries have different labor laws. Age, workplace... all maybe be different.

chaicka said,

I have worked in factories at the age of 13 during school term holidays (June & Dec) and at 14, worked in a hazardous factory that does electroplating of PCBs. So, age is not really an issue in my opinion. There are plenty of low income families in Asian countries, and the kids go to work during school term breaks just to earn extra cash to fund their studies.

I'm not sure if it's normal to work in any dangerous factory at the age of 13. Other than that, it's not even normal that some has to work at that age - though i also started to work at constructions at the age of 14 for the same reason.

Kayle12 said,
Actually I think it's good. Not many companies do this and know they can get on their suppliers. As for the age thing....I started working at 15 so it's really not a huge issue

Come on, 60+ a week, that's a sweat shop.

tiagosilva29 said,

Different countries have different labor laws. Age, workplace... all maybe be different.

Some countries have no labor laws, so the employers can do whatever they want with them. And not every country supports human rights.

These children will never get an education, That is why it's wrong to make children work at a young age like that for that many hours.. If they should work then 6 hours a day should be the max.

Edited by jesseinsf, Feb 28 2010, 10:43pm : Needed to add more.

Minimoose said,

And the fact that other companies don't even bother to check is cool?


Oh so because they check they deserve kudos? The comment was about Apple not everyone else.

Tim Dawg said,

Oh so because they check they deserve kudos? The comment was about Apple not everyone else.

Yes, checking for child labor and trying to do something about it deserve kudos. This is about the hw suppliers. Apple just completed an investigation on the stuff, and they even had the balls to say that it was a problem in public despite people like you. I know it's cool to hate Apple and all, but please read the article at least.

Edited by Northgrove, Feb 28 2010, 12:00am :

Tim Dawg said,

Oh so because they check they deserve kudos? The comment was about Apple not everyone else.

No, but that doesn't mean they deserve to have negative comments thrown at them. The things people should be complaining about is how long it took them to do this and the companies who don't audit at all.

Minimoose said,

No, but that doesn't mean they deserve to have negative comments thrown at them. The things people should be complaining about is how long it took them to do this and the companies who don't audit at all.

Maybe they do deserve negative comments, but everyone is misdirecting them. They should be more in line with what you said.... why did it take so long?....

If Apple cared that much they would do these checks before taking on the companies as suppliers. Rather than years down the line, do an investigation and look innocent after years of exploiting cheap labour.

Apple probably worked it like this because they no doubt have long fixed contracts with the supplier, and these contracts will be based on the money the supplier can make whilst using cheap labour and low safety standards... now the suppliers will get pressured to increase pay, safety etc. but at the same time will have to retain their contract with Apple, now making even less (no?) profit. Apple get better suppliers at the rate of a non-ethical company.

(On the contrary if Apple did these checks prior to a contract, the contract would undoubtedly cost more.)

Its the typical... go with the lowest contractor, then make them offer "more" for the same. Obviously the contractor ideally should already meet these standards, however Apple cant really claim they believe all foreign companies to meet minimum standards - they would have to be totally naive to believe that... If they were appointing American contractors then it would be reasonable to expect a standard.

Edited by lt8480, Feb 28 2010, 10:45am :

thealexweb said,
Not cool Apple.

I am sure the 15 year olds and their families are grateful for the loss of income. Thanks Apple and the Western know it alls. Being PC is more important then the well being of the people in Asia. Right?

I wonder where the 15 year olds now will have to work. Probably under much worse conditions and making much longer times. Because if they could have gotten a better job than at the Apple plant, they would have chosen it. Yay for do gooders!