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The electronics giant Apple has been under increased pressure to address issues with its suppliers following reports of suicides at Foxconn Technology Park drawing the world’s attention back in 2010.
Relying heavily on Asian-based suppliers to manufacture its popular iPhone and iPad models, among others; Apple conducted almost 400 audits last year, a 70 percent increase on 2011; evaluating sites where over 1.5 million workers make its revered gadgets.
In an interview this week, Apple’s Senior Vice-President of Operations, Jeff Williams commented that the company has increased its efforts to solve two of the most challenging issues – ensuring there are no under-aged workers in its supply chain and limiting working hours to 60 hours a week.
Having focused on its majors suppliers, Apple has now turned its attention to both smaller and ancillary suppliers, typically providing components to the majors and therefore less damaging to the entire chain if dismissed.
One such dismissal regarded circuit board maker Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co Ltd, often referred to simply as ‘PZ’. Apple has said that it has terminated its relationship with PZ after discovering 74 cases of underage workers.
Apple also uncovered an employment agency that was forging documents allowing children to work illegally at the supplier. Both suppler and agency were subsequently reported to local authorities.
“We go deep in the supply chain to find (cases of child labour), and when we find it, we ensure that underage workers are taken care of, the suppliers are dealt with.”
Having spent 14 years with Apple managing its Asian supply chain, Williams concluded by vowing to eradicate under aged labour from the industry:
“I don’t know how long it will take to get there, but that’s our goal.”