Over the weekend it was reported that Apple admitted that child labor had been used at the Chinese factories that build its Macs, iPods and iPhones. Now the company is being urged to disclose more details about its suppliers. But is that necessary?
At least eleven 15-year-old children were discovered to be working last year in three factories that supply the company. Workers’ rights groups want Apple to disclose more info on its suppliers, reports “Bloomberg” (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aUbDxIWdQCKg).
“The suppliers are breaking the law,” said Debby Chan, project officer at Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior in Hong Kong. “Apple should disclose its suppliers list to NGOs to allow more effective monitoring of the situation,” said Chan, referring to non-government organizations.
“Apple should improve disclosure of worker issues at its suppliers to enable external monitoring by rights groups,” said Apo Leong, China coordinator at Asia Monitor Resource Centre in Hong Kong. Electronics companies typically trail clothing manufacturers in efforts to enhance workers’ rights, he said.
However, Frank Parth, chief executive at Project Auditors, which advises companies on project management, told “Bloomberg” that it seems like Apple is being much more open about this than other companies. “I’ve seen nothing on this topic from Dell or HP,” he added.
Jill Tan, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Apple, told “Bloomberg” that the company doesn’t disclose its suppliers as a matter of policy. The company also visited sites in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Czech Republic, the Philippines and the U.S. as part of its onsite audit of 102 factories, according to Apple’s 2010 Supplier Responsibility Report.
Also, as “TUAW” (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/03/01/tuaw-fact-check-apple-using-underage-labor-no/) points out, in fact, if you actually read Apple’s report, you find that 97% of its facilities were in compliance with regulations against underage labor.
This is from the report: “Apple discovered three facilities that had previously hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum age for employment is 16. Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, although the workers were no longer underage or no longer in active employment at the time of our audit.
“In each of the three facilities, we required a review of all employment records for the year prior to our audit, as well as a complete analysis of the hiring process to clarify how underage people had been able to gain employment. Apple required each facility to develop and institute appropriate management systems-such as more thorough ID checks and verification procedures-to prevent future employment of underage workers.”