Apple has released its seventh annual supplier audit, and it reveals that one of its suppliers was found to have violated its underage labour policy 74 times. Unsurprisingly, Apple was clear about the consequences of such a problems and has completely severed ties with the manufacturer.
Reading through the report, it appears that a local staffing firm, Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources, was responsible for supplying the children to the manufacturer. In the process, the staffing firm helped families forge age verification documents. In total, 11 factories were found to have employed underage workers, with 106 cases currently being investigated.
Elsewhere, Apple is attempting to crack down on bonded labour: a process through which foreign workers are made to pay exorbitant recruitment fees in their home countries. Eight facilities were found to be exercising the practice, which saw employees paying up to a month's worth of wages per year in the process. In total, payments of $US6.4 million were made — something that Apple claims to be fighting against.
There are, of course, plenty of other issues that Apple is striving to improve: cutting extreme cases of overtime, stamping out abuse, and providing better working conditions amongst them. If you want to read more about those practices, you should go read Apple's report.
Regardless of all the promises Apple seems to be making, it is at least reassuring that Cook and co. do seem to be taking the whole thing seriously: 2013 saw the company carry out 393 audits, for instance, a rise of 72 per cent on 2012. Apple has a long way to go, of course, but it's clearly sending out a message that it won't turn a blind eye. [Apple via The Verge]