Apple drops supplier after audit finds underage workers


Apple released its latest Supplier Responsibility report late last night, detailing 339 audits focused on the plants and suppliers that help make its hardware. These were internal audits, which are separate from those performed by the Fair Labor Association.

While Apple was quick to point out supplier compliance, an impressive 92%, it also mentioned that it has severed its relationship with a China-based third-party labor supplier after discovering a conspiracy to employ dozens of underage workers…

Bloomberg reports:

“Apple Inc. (AAPL) expanded internal audits of suppliers and identified a Chinese labor agent hiring underage workers as the world’s most-valuable company moves to boost conditions for people making iPhones and iPads.

One manufacturer employed 74 children younger than 16, and 158 facilities lacked procedures or didn’t perform adequate audits of their own suppliers, according to the annual Supplier Responsibility Report released today by Cupertino, California- based Apple.”

The manufacturer is Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics (PZ), and as a result, Apple terminated their relationship. Additionally, the iPad-maker said it reported the labor agency that knowingly provider the child labor to PZ to local authorities.

The agency, which allegedly conspired with the children’s families to falsify age-verification documents, had its license suspended and was levied a fine. The children were returned to their families, and PZ was required to pay all accompanying expenses.

“Underage labor is a subject no company wants to be associated with, so as a result I don’t believe it gets the attention it deserves, and as a result it doesn’t get fixed like it should,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s SVP of Operations, told Bloomberg in an interview. “We go deep in the supply chain to find it,” Williams said. “And when we do find it, we ensure that the underage workers are taken care of, the suppliers are dealt with.”

Aside from the PZ discovery, Apple said it achieved an average of 92% supplier compliance with a maximum 60-hour work week. That’s a substantial improvement over last year’s 38%. The company is also now tracking over 1 million workers in its supply chain.