Apple has just published its own “Supplier Responsibility Progress Report” for 2012, and it makes encouraging reading. The company’s dedication to being transparent and ensuring that it’s setting the example to every other manufacturer with its production partners is exemplary.
While we’ve read a lot over the past years of Foxconn workers being underpaid, overworked, fighting and committing suicide, Apple is still the only big tech firm to sign an agreement with the FLA to ensure that it meets standards. Following that, Tim Cook himself visited one of the Foxconn factories, and even allowed a U.S. national TV station to take its cameras inside. After being audited Cupertino’s chiefs gave Foxconn a strict set of rules regarding how many hours its employees should be working, and gave them an overtime limit to boot. Many saw it as Apple just trying to appear like it was trying, when – in fact – things were still going on as usual behind closed doors. Skeptics should take a long hard look at the latest report.
Within the latest report, Apple reveals that it has ended a contract with one component supplier. Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co. will no longer provided printed circuit boards for Apple’s electronics devices, after being found to be employing 74 underage workers to do its work. That’s 74 people under the age of 16, breaking Apple’s Code of Conduct. What’s perhaps worse is that a labor agency is the one who recruited the teenagers to work for the manufacturer.
“In fact, to obtain the workers,” the report reads “this agency conspired with families to forge age verification documents and make the workers seem older than they were.”
It’s encouraging to see Apple taking action on matters that are important. Not just in from of TV cameras either. The in-depth report contains the results of 393 audits carried at all levels of the supply chain. From component manufacturers all the way through to the final assembly lines. If you’ve got time, it’s worth a read through.
As for Foxconn, working conditions are on the up as Apple achieved 92% compliance with a 60-hour week maximum. As time goes on, we expect other companies will follow suit and eventually ensure that those employed to construct parts are treated well and work in acceptable conditions.