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Apple issues update on supplier practices

17 Jan 2012
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Ever since the Foxconn crisis, Apple has committed itself to keeping close tabs on its supply chain partners.

The company has issued its second audit of its partners, helping to shed light on how some of your favourite Apple products are put together. The audit looked at around 229 facilities associated with its products and some of the results are eye-opening.

For starters, the company found that five of the firms it audited were in violation of child labour laws. Additionally, 15 firms had been linked to foreign worker programmes, which had charged employees excessive fees to secure jobs. In one case, violations were repeatedly made to the point that Apple terminated its contract with the company.

Safety also continues to be a problem. Apple reported that just 65 per cent of the companies it surveyed met with its occupational injury prevention standards. Just 86 per cent met with standards for preventing chemical exposure.

The numbers were better for ethical standards. For areas such as whistleblower protection, intellectual property security and business integrity, more than 93 per cent of partners met Apple's standards. Still, violations of Apple's ethical standards forced the company to terminate its associations with at least one partner.

Discrimination also remains an issue. Apple said that 24 facilities were performing pregnancy tests to screen employees, while an additional 56 audits found that companies lacked policies to prevent discrimination based on pregnancy. Up to 52 companies had further discrimination issues related to medical tests on employees.

While the report isn't pretty in parts, Apple should be commended for making the information available to the public. Most of these factories contract with multiple companies and produce a range of products far beyond those with the Apple logo.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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