Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Apple audit finds more problems

Apple audit finds more problems

The tech giant has more than 3 million workers in its global supply chain to make iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch, according to the company's 12th annual Supplier Responsibility Report, which it released Wednesday. Since 2007, nearly 15 million supplier employees have been trained on their rights, including 3 million just past year.

Apple's annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report has been in operation since 2007 and seeks to improve "working conditions at supplier facilities, protect the planet and ensure responsible sourcing".

Out of all the suppliers subject to audit, 44 "core violations" of policy were found. "And we share our vision, processes, and results openly - because we believe transparency keeps us accountable to ourselves and the world, while allowing others to learn and benefit from our experience".

As part of the global audits, Apple also checks its supply chain for compliance in the areas of health and safety, environmental impact and air emissions.

Apple has reported an increase in the number of serious violations of working conditions at factories where its products are manufactured, but says that overall conditions improved.

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In 2015, Apple banned suppliers from charging its workers fees to work, known as debt-bonded labour, even those which fall within the legal limits of the supplier's country. The program started at facilities in India and China and provides information and access to services, including self-examination for early cancer detection, nutrition, personal care and maternal health.

Last year, Apple launched a program at locations in India and China created to help improve the health awareness for women working throughout its supply chain.

"We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that nearly 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years".

Furthermore, Apple says that several smelting facilities and refineries were dropped because they refused to participate in required third-party auditing. "Extended collaboration among Apple teams, factory management, major medical institutions including the Department of Community Health, St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore, welfare officers, trainers, and the women themselves is essential to achieve the programme's goals".

"We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that nearly 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years", Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a statement. In the last 10 years, more than 2.5 million supplier employees have taken education classes, ranging from language skills to software development, and 12,000 are graduating with a degree. Some 197 suppliers were audited for the first time.

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Apple COO Jeff Williams said that the company is "committed to raising the bar every year across our supply chain"; the company also claimed that the increase in violations was driven by an increase in its number of suppliers.

Apple's auditing of its supply chain has expanded in recent years as the firm seeks to avoid the negative headlines of past years after problems surfaced with a number of its suppliers.

Indeed, Apple is supplied by a total of 756 supplier spread across 30 countries, most of whom are now adhering to Apple's code of conduct.

Apple also said that 59% of its suppliers earned scores of 90 or higher on its scale, a new record. Workers in the Philippines were charged a total of $1 million at a contractor facility. It returned $1.9m (£1.37m) of wrongfully collected recruitment fees to 1,558 employees of suppliers a year ago, taking the total amount repaid from suppliers to $30m since 2008.

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