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  • Apple's Annual Supplier Audit Reveals More Than a Few Disturbing Discoveries


    Apple has published its 2011 Supplier Responsibility report as part of the company's ongoing efforts to ensure "the highest standards of social responsibility wherever our products are made." Notwithstanding, a number of disturbing violations bubbled to the surface.

    According to the audit, Apple learned that some 49 underage workers were employed at 9 different foreign-located facilities. 42 of those workers, however, were stationed at just one of those production facilities. In light of the disturbing discovery, Apple has since ended its working relationship with that facility. Additionally, Apple "required the supplier to support the young workers' return to school and to improve their management systems to prevent recurrences."

    A well known and documented health scare was also addressed in the audit. In early 2010, more than 100 workers at a Wintek facility received medical treatment after being exposed to the poisonous chemical n-hexane gas. Following the regrettable event, Apple says it mandated the facility to halt any and all usage of n-hexane gas and to promptly remedy a number of factory deficiencies, including the plant's ventilation systems.

    As the report notes, there were also instances of bribery - situations that similarly resulted in terminated business dealings. But more unsettling, without question, was the rash of suicides at Foxconn, the Chinese facility that represents Apple's largest overseas manufacturer. Throughout 2010, news of seemingly habitual suicides at the Shenzhen, China plant put both Foxconn and Apple in the headlines.

    According to the audit, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook ventured to the controversial plant as the process of addressing the suicides began in earnest. In addition to meeting with executives at Foxconn and candidly addressing the matter, Apple obtained the assistance of various suicide prevention experts who similarly assessed the conditions of the plant and its workers. The panel of experts "commended Foxconn for taking quick action on several fronts simultaneously, including hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center, and even attaching large nets to the factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides." As expected, a full slate of recommended improvements were also outlined to the executives at Foxconn. "Apple will continue to work with Foxconn through the implementation of these programs, and we plan to take key learnings from this engagement to other facilities in our supply base," the report concludes.

    Apple conducted a total of 127 audits in 2010, 97 of which were first-time audits. To read the full report, click here.

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple's Annual Supplier Audit Reveals More Than a Few Disturbing Discoveries started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. mortopher's Avatar
      mortopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zokunei View Post
      I know, giving people working conditions that encourage suicide is totally ok. What's gotten in to people?
      If I remember correctly, an article on here a little while back explained this situation a bit further. Foxconn has an ungodly number of employees, especially at "iPod City", and the article pointed out that while that temporary surge in suicides was most unfortunate, the average suicide rate was still significantly lower than the general population.

      Quote Originally Posted by CaptainChaos View Post
      I would gladly pay double. With the state our economy is in bringing jobs back to America is the right thing to do. These situations would be easier to oversee in our own backyard.
      Sadly way more than 50% of current customers would go elsewhere if the price doubled.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      Quote Originally Posted by steve-z17 View Post
      For everyone saying their not going to buy Apple anymore because of this get off your high horse. Do you actually think this only happens overseas with Apple?? The same thing can be said about almost any major company with factories, but at least Apple's doing something about it and reporting it. Can't say the same about too many other big corporations.

      I've had some big wigs from major companies come to my Business Management Lectures course. When they talk about taking over at an overseas plant to increase revenue and productivity they all say that the first thing they had to change were working conditions. And the stuff that Apple has reported was normal for them to see unfortunately. But it's nice when someone takes over that actually cares about working conditions and makes a change. Every little bit helps.
      yea i highly doubt those saying they are not going to buy apple products anymore are just talking in the moment. Its horrible how some companies just look past the conditions of workers overseas, it would be impossible to make the kind of revenue that those companies make here in the states. i would say that we have too many regulations and wage changing restrictions that we do this to ourselves, we put these working conditions on others
    1. domenicp's Avatar
      domenicp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wilbourn View Post
      This is peanuts compared to other companies who manufacture their products in countries where there are little to no regulations on safe working environments. Not saying this is ok but y'all saying apple products are like blood diamonds and that y'all will never buy an apple product because of this are fooling yourself if you believe this is only defined to apple lol.
      Agreed.