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Increase in suppliers lead to more labor violations for Apple

Apple, in its annual audit report of working conditions among its suppliers, found twice as many labor and environmental violations as the previous year. The company found 44 core violations including fabricated work hours data.

However, the majority of its 756 suppliers (across 30 nations) complied with the company's code of conduct. The twelfth edition of the annual report audited almost 200 suppliers for the first time, which could explain the hike in violations. Apple's production scale is one of the largest in the world, and it mostly comes from factories owned by contractors.

Overall, the report was more positive for Apple as only one percent of the suppliers scored less than 59 on a 100-point scale termed "low performers". In 2016, that proportion was three percent and, in 2014, it was 14%. "High performers", or those with a score greater than 90, also increased to 59% over 2016's 47%.

In a case of gross violation, a supplier coerced 700 contract workers from the Philippines to pay $1 million to work for them. The company forced the supplier to return the money. Apple's 60-hour work week fell to 94% as opposed to 97% the year before with the company discovering 38 cases of falsified data. In 2016, Apple had discovered nine such cases.

Once these cases are discovered, the company notifies the CEO of the supplier and puts the supplier on a probation. Once the supplier deals with the situation, Apple evaluates the changes and makes sure that the problem is taken care of.

Apple COO Jeff Williams said that the company is "committed to raising the bar every year across our supply chain"; the company also claimed that the increase in violations was driven by an increase in its number of suppliers. It also tracked work hours data for over 1.3 million employees- a 30% growth over the previous year.

The corporation claims to have launched an initiative to train line workers in order to help them become line leaders, which will increase their pay by 20% to 30%. Last year, the company had received flak after it was discovered that several children in Apple's Chinese factories had 11-hour work days, it has since framed new rules with regards to student labor.

Source: Reuters

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