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Apple has had a history of having poor working conditions at many of the facilities used by its suppliers, such as Foxconn, with reports of unethical behavior such as underage workers, forced labor, and high visibility suicides. Although Apple audits its supplier facilities some suppliers have been reported to continue exhibiting poor conditions. These conditions include discriminatory practices, failure to protect juvenile workers, and excessive working hours. http://www.macworld.com/article/2097723/apples-2014-supplier-report-better-working-conditions-fewer-conflict-minerals.html
According to Lawrence and Weber (2014), Apple joined the Fair Labor Association, the first electronic company to do so, in which Apple requested and with the company’s financial support, the FLA immediately undertook the most extensive audit ever conducted of conditions in China’s electronics supply chain. After the audit, Apple issued a statement saying, “Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple’s supply chain a model for the industry, which I why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits” and for its, Foxconn agreed to reduce overtime from 80 to 36 hours per month by July 2013, while raising wages to prevent workers from losing income, Apple also agreed to pay worker retroactively for unpaid overtime and to improve health and safety protections (Lawrence and Weber, 2014).
Prior to these allegations Apple had already established a Supplier Code of Conduct. This is the ninth year Apple has released its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report a detailed annual report which highlights their improvements as it relates to their supplier responsibility. The Supplier Responsibility Progress Report concentrates on several key areas to include empowering workers, labor and human rights, health and safety, the environment and accountability.
Apple maintains that they are working closely with suppliers to ensure their code of conduct is being upheld and that the rights of works are being respected. They believe that the use of child labor, excessive overtime, and unsafe practices by suppliers have been reduced and benefits and pay for workers have increased.

To highlight and ensure accountability the company performs audits on it supplier’s annually. These audit aim to improve the company’s code of conduct and to encourage and enhance supplier responsibility and accountability. In 2014 Apple performed 633 audits covering over 1.6 million workers this was up from 451 audits performed in 2013. There were audits performed in 19 countries, according to the 2015 progress report

Human right has been a big issue for Apple, although they maintain that their supply chain deserves a fair and ethical workplace. According to Apple’s code of conduct, a workweek shall be restricted to 60 hours, including overtime, and workers shall take at least one day off every seven days except in emergencies or unusual situations. Supplier shall follow all applicable laws and regulations with respect to working hours and days of rest, and all overtime must be voluntary. In 2011, Apple began tracking the number of hours worked by factory employees. They now contact suppliers that are in violations and work with them to address and mitigate the issue. By 2012 the program had expanded to track over one million employees and began monthly publishing the compliance rate on its annual supplier responsibility reports. Apple reported that in 2014, 92% of its suppliers were found to be in compliance with the requirement that factory employees work no more than the 60 hours a week and the average hours worked per week was just under 50.

Another area Apple has claimed successful is the elimination of child labor at suppliers’ factories. Their code of conduct states “Supplier shall employ only workers who are at least 15 years of age or the applicable minimum legal age, whichever is higher”. Apple maintains that they are making efforts to eliminate the use of child labor not only by their suppliers but also within the entire consumer electronics industry. In the case of Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources Co., Ltd. who were found to have been exploiting child labor, Apple terminated with them and ensured in their last progress report that the victims were returned to school and compensated for damages and lost time. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-01-25/apple-expands-audits-says-china-labor-agent-forged-documents>) Apple also report that 84 suppliers have been targeted as high risk of child labor problems and through its Prevention of Underage Labor training program have been offered instructions on effective methods of age verification and fraud prevention.

Apple’s code of conduct also instructs all supplier to develop and maintain management and worker training programs to facilitate proper implementation of its policies and procedures and to fulfill Supplier’s continuous improvement objectives. These programs provide managers and supervisors training in management practices such as communication, anti-harassment policies, and worker protections. Workers are also provided with information on local laws, workers’ rights, and occupational health and safety. Workers and managers are also educated on Apple’s code of conduct. Apple reports that over 2.3 million workers have participated in its training programs since 2007 with participation continuing to grow rapidly. In 2008 Apple began offering its Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) program to its suppliers’ employees to help assist workers in their professional and personal development. This program offers classes in technical, software, management, and other skills, as well as offers workers the opportunity to take advantage of Apple’s partnerships with universities to obtain higher education and advanced degrees.

Under their code of conduct, Apple requires supplier to develop, implement, and maintain environmentally responsible business practices. They require that suppliers provide and maintain a safe work environment that maintains sound health and safety management practices into its business. Workers shall have the right to refuse unsafe work and to report unhealthy working conditions. In 2014, according to their 2015 progress report, Apple expanded their Clean Water Program to cover 50 percent of total water withdrawal for our top 200 suppliers. They also helped 13 suppliers save a billion gallons of freshwater.

Apple has stated that they believe safety should never be subject to compromise. In 2013 Apple created the Apple Supplier Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Academy. There was a positive reaction to the program, so much so that suppliers have sent more than the required number of managers to attend. Apple reports that they enrolled 156 more suppliers, and 392 more participants, in the EHS Academy. There were more than 870 EHs project launched in 2014. Apple graduated the first class of EHS participants. According to Apple, they also trained close to 1000 supplier personnel in 2014 on topics such as ergonomics and chemical management, in addition to our EHS Academy training.

References

* http://www.macworld.com/article/2097723/apples-2014-supplier-report-better-working-conditions-fewer-conflict-minerals.html Dan Moren Contributor

* Lawrence, A. T., & Weber, J. (2014). Business & society: Stakeholders, ethics, public policy (14th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

* http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-01-25/apple-expands-audits-says-china-labor-agent-forged-documents

* http://www.apple.com/kr/supplier-responsibility/pdf/Apple_Supplier_Code_of_Conduct.pdf

* http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/pdf/Apple_Progress_Report_2015.pdf

* http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/pdf/Apple_SR_2014_Progress_Report.pdf

* http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/pdf/Apple_SR_2009_Progress_Report.pdf…...

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