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Apple Responds to Workers’ Rights Abuses

{complink 379|Apple Inc.} did the right thing by auditing its business partners and taking corrective action to ensure the safety and fair treatment of workers throughout its supply chain.

Apple's 2011 Supplier Responsibility Report highlighted a number of problems that haven't yet been widely publicized, such as the use of underage labor; the misuse of employee “recruitment” fees; and other abuses within its substantial ecosystem. And Apple hasn't outright severed ties with {complink 2125|Foxconn Electronics Inc.}, which experienced employee suicides allegedly tied to poor working conditions.

But among its actions, Apple reimbursed $3.4 million in over-charged recruitment fees; assisted Foxconn with employee counseling and other mental health efforts; and mapped the use of potential conflict minerals within its supply chain. You can read the entire report here.

The media hammers companies associated with human rights abuses, and rightfully so. But Apple's report is through, methodical, and outlines the specific actions it took to address the problems found. More importantly, Apple says these efforts are “ongoing.” I'd like to see more of such accounts, and if you know of any, send them along to .

12 comments on “Apple Responds to Workers’ Rights Abuses

  1. AnalyzeThis
    February 16, 2011

    The entire situation with Foxconn has been discussed before, so I won't rehash that debate.

    I agree that Apple did the right thing here and if anyone is trying to accuse Apple specifically of rights abuses, I think they're being a little unrealistic: with the gigantic amount of business Apple is doing overseas, it's really kind of amazing they hadn't had more worker-related problems. Sad to say.

    Unfortunately, this is yet another downside to outsourcing: you can never be quite sure who is doing your work and what conditions they are working under. Especially if you're a large organization.

    I would like to think that anyone I do business with overseas treats all their workers fairly and that the employees of that business are being treated far better than they would if they were working a “traditional” job in their homeland… but I know this is an idealistic thought.

  2. SP
    February 16, 2011

    I caught attention on underage labor. As far as I have seen in US they are very strict with terms and conditions for recruiting anyone. I personally feel with the kind of reputation Apple has built up in the market they wouldnt do anything like that knowingly.  Even if something has happened without thir direct knowledge they will take riight steps to prevent it.

  3. Anand
    February 17, 2011

    Thanks for the update Barbara. Its good to see atleast APPLE has woken up to the reality of  human right abuses especially in FOXCONN. 

    I am not sure if APPLE can directly be held responsible for what is happening in FOXCONN, but APPLE has all the tools to control the FOXCONN and thus come up with a solution for this problem. I am impressed with APPLE's 2011 priorities like APPLE SEED classroom, to help workers continue their education while remaining employed. I hope these steps will bring smiles on FOXCONN workers.

  4. Adeniji Kayode
    February 17, 2011

    The rights given to Workers to stay employed while furthering their education is really a good one and I feel this will also have a positive impact on Apple Inc

  5. DataCrunch
    February 17, 2011

    I agree.  I am impressed by Apple providing this honest progress report.

  6. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 17, 2011

    There were a number of other things Apple revealed that haven't been covered extensively in the press: issues with migrant workers and chemical exposure. Not only did they identify the child labor violations–they sent the kids back to school. Overall, I'm impressed.

    Whether Apple was backed into this situation with the Foxconn suicides or it began this process itself (Apple actually has an archive of similar reports I haven't read yet) I give them credit for thier efforts.

  7. Taimoor Zubar
    February 17, 2011

    Apple has not been much into the news for humanitarian actions and CSR, but I agree that this move really seems impressive on their part. I think Apple has taken this step at the right time to ensure that no damage is done to their reputation and that they maintain good PR in the market.

  8. itguyphil
    February 17, 2011

    The probably do not want people seeing this in a press release:

    http://storyofstuff.org/electronics/

  9. Himanshugupta
    February 17, 2011

    And with such a strong position on worker's condition, Apple can probable make a difference, if it already isn't. Customers pay attention to these news and this is very helpful for PR activities.

  10. Adeniji Kayode
    February 19, 2011

    Hitmanshugupta, you are right on that and you predicted well, with this new system of operation by Apple,i personally expect more from them this year.

     

     

     

     

  11. Ms. Daisy
    February 20, 2011

    The cliche – “Buyers beware” needs to be extended to all companies outsourcing overseas. Its good that Apple is taking all these steps to repond to workers abuses, but all companies that are outsourcing have to do a better job of proactively planning and demanding workers rights by all subcontractors that are outsourced overseas. It is no secret that labor practices outside the US shores is totally different, so proactive planning specifically on rights and abuses in company contracts is a must. It is not unrealistic to demand this, after all product specifications are demanded and these are met.

    The difficulty however is in enforcing these demands, but not asking for minimum rights for the workers opens companies like Apple to worker-related problems. The idealistic thought that workers will be treated fairly without consequenses will never happen, unless it is made clear that it is part of the companies business expectation. Even with this, you still have to conduct unannounced checks or subcontract this follow up to other companies to enforce this request. 

  12. garyk
    February 23, 2011

    I'm very suprised that China acts like this in the world manufactuing market, Ha, Ha.

    Apple is responsable for this problem, I hope them enjoy there high profit margins with the help of China.

     

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