In many of the cases of underage labor we’ve discovered, the culprit behind the violation was a third-party labor agent that willfully and illegally recruited young workers. In January 2012, for example, we audited a supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co., Ltd. (PZ) that produces a standard circuit board component used by many other companies in many industries. Our auditors were dismayed to discover 74 cases of workers under age 16—a core violation of our Code of Conduct. As a result, we terminated our business relationship with PZ.
But we didn’t stop there. We also learned that one of the region’s largest labor agencies, Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources Co., Ltd. (Quanshun), which is registered in both the Shenzhen and Henan provinces, was responsible for knowingly providing the children to PZ. In fact, to obtain the workers, this agency conspired with families to forge age verification documents and make the workers seem older than they were.
We also alerted the provincial governments to the actions of Quanshun. The agency had its business license suspended and was fined. The children were returned to their families, and PZ was required to pay expenses to facilitate their successful return. In addition, the company that subcontracted its work to PZ was prompted by our findings to audit its other subcontractors for underage labor violations—proving that one discovery can have far-reaching impact
Highlights from the 2013 Report:
• We conducted 393 audits at all levels of our supply chain—a 72 percent increase over 2011—covering facilities where more than 1.5 million workers make Apple products. This total includes 55 focused environmental audits and 40 specialized process safety assessments to evaluate suppliers’ operations and business practices. In addition, we conducted 27 targeted bonded labor audits to protect workers from excessive recruitment fees.
• Taking on the industrywide problem of excessive work hours, we achieved an average of 92 percent compliance with a maximum 60-hour work week. We are now tracking more than 1 million workers weekly and publishing the results monthly on our website.
• In 2012, Apple became the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA). At our request, the FLA conducted the largest-scale independent audit in its history, covering an estimated 178,000 workers at our largest final assembly supplier, Foxconn. The FLA’s independent findings and progress reports have been published on its website.
• We extended our worker empowerment training programs to more workers and more managers. In 2012, 1.3 million workers and managers received Apple-designed training about local laws, their rights as workers, occupational health and safety, and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct. That’s nearly double the number of workers trained by this program since 2008.
• We increased our investment in our Supplier Employee Education and Development program—which offers workers the opportunity to study business, computer skills, languages, and other subjects at no charge—expanding from four facilities to nine. More than 200,000 workers have now participated in the program.
• Continuing our efforts to protect the rights of workers who move from their home country to work in our suppliers’ factories, we required suppliers to reimburse US$6.4 million in excess foreign contract worker fees in 2012. That brings the total repaid to workers to US$13.1 million since 2008.
The full report can be found here.