New iPhone owners are often told that the smartphone is simple enough for a child to use. Apparently, it's also simple enough for a child to build - an exploitative situation that is gaining international attention today for obvious reasons.
In what can best be described as a disturbing find in an Apple audit, Cupertino has revealed (according to an article in BusinessWeek), that three of its overseas suppliers hired nearly a dozen "underage workers" last year to assist in the manufacturing of popular Apple mobile devices and computers. The unfortunate situation was discovered during a comprehensive on-site audit of better than one hundred factories.
The company visited sites in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Czech Republic, Philippines and the U.S.
In the past, Apple has stopped doing business with suppliers and facilities that were found to have been in violation of either Apple's code or facilitating unsafe or inadequate working conditions. According to a statement from Apple, the company has long endeavored to create "extensive training programs to educate workers about their right to a safe and respectful work environment." In light of these disturbing findings and the reality that some people will take any work available to survive, Apple will likely take a fresh look at their policies and how they are enforced across a very broad global landscape.
While Apple certainly didn't sanction the illegal employment of children and the poor working conditions in which the workers were found, Apple now finds itself in full damage-control mode - a situation that will certainly lead to swift action to resolve the ugly findings that sparked this story and delivered a fresh black eye on Apple's corporate image.