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Apple lists 156 of its suppliers in 2012 'responsibility report'

January 13, 2012 |  2:30 pm
Photo: Workers assemble and perform quality control checks on MacBook Pro display enclosures at an Apple supplier facility in Shanghai. Credit: Apple

For the first time, Apple listed all 156 of its suppliers and manufacturing partners as a part of its "Supplier Responsibility 2012 Progress Report."

The report, which is issued annually, detailed Apple's efforts to monitor its suppliers to make sure they're operating within legal codes and its own policies regarding environmental standards, occupational health and safety, and human rights.

Apple did not, however, say why this year it decided to name each of its suppliers, though the company has come under scrutiny in the past over workplace problems with its suppliers, such as nearly a dozen employees committing suicide at the Shenzhen, China, plant of Foxconn in 2010.

After that shocking and public string of tragedies, Apple sent then-Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook to Foxconn, which also manufactures products for a number of Apple's competitors, with two suicide experts and other high-level company executives to evaluate the working conditions there. Cook is now Apple's chief executive, officially taking over for Steve Jobs just before his death in October.

As it does each year, Apple documented good and bad news in its report.

The tech giant said that its Supplier Responsibility team conducted a total of 229 audits in 2011, which was an 80% increase from 2010.

"More than 100 of these were at factories that we had not audited before," Apple said in the report. "Facilities where we conduct repeat audits consistently show fewer violations, and the vast majority improve their audit scores year-over-year."

Apple also said that in 2011 it trained its 1 millionth supplier employee as a part of its "worker empowerment program," which trains workers on Apple's supplier standards as well as "their rights as workers, occupational health and safety standards, and more."

The Cupertino-based company also found that just 38% of suppliers it audited were in compliance with its policy of no-more-than a 60-hour work week.

"93 facilities had records that indicated more than 50 percent of their workers exceeded weekly working hour limits of 60 in at least 1 week out of the 12 sample period." Apple said in the report. "At 90 facilities, more than half of the records we reviewed indicated that workers had worked more than 6 consecutive days at least once per month, and 37 facilities lacked an adequate working day control system to ensure that workers took at least 1 day off in every 7 days."

108 audited facilities "did not pay proper overtime wages as required by laws and regulations," Apple said. "For example, they did not provide sufficient overtime pay for holidays." In response to that finding, Apple says it required suppliers to repay workers the wages they were due and to "change their current payment system to prevent recurrence."

The iPhone-maker also said it increased the amount of money its suppliers paid out to workers to compensate for migrant laborers paying outrageously high fees to recruiters, middle-men and other companies just to get a job making parts found in Apple goods.

"We increased audits in Malaysia and Singapore, countries known to be destinations for foreign contract workers," Apple said. "As a result, suppliers reimbursed $3.3 million in excess foreign contract worker fees, bringing the total that has been repaid to workers since 2008 to $6.7 million."

Apple also said in the report that it found no incidents of underage workers at its suppliers last year and that it stopped doing business with one supplier over a repeated "core violation" though the company didn't say who the supplier was or what the violation was.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Workers assemble and perform quality control checks on MacBook Pro display enclosures at an Apple supplier facility in Shanghai. Credit: Apple

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