It's not secret that, in the wake of the Foxconn employee deaths, Apple is trying to be more transparent in its dealing with the companies that supply and assemble the various parts for its products.
This week, the company posted the results of its 2010 supplier audit, and some interesting findings were reported.
For example, the company found that employees in 18 of its 28 supplier facilities had been overcharged on hiring fees. The fees are charged by recruiters and can often rack up debts that equal several months worth of wages. Apple required the suppliers to reimburse recruitment fees totaling anything over one month worth of wages.
Recruitment agencies were also noted as a source of underage labour. Apple estimated that of 91 underage employee cases, all but two were the result of recruitment agencies referring employees under the legal ages. One facility in China was found to be in such egregious violation of the law (including 42 underage employees) that Apple severed its contract and reported the factories.
Recruitment fees and underage hiring accounted for the majority of Apple's most serious, or "Core" supplier violations, accounting for 28 of the 37 reports. Other violations include falsifying records, endangering workers and coaching employees on how to answer during auditor interviews.
In total, Apple has had to terminate business with three facilities as a result of violations.
The report also takes an in-depth look at conditions at Foxconn following the employee suicides of last year. The report commended Foxconn for its reaction and handling of the suicides, but also gives a number of recommendations, including long-term plans, that Foxconn is being advised to consider.
Other details can be found by looking at the full report here. It can be a harrowing read at times, but definitely worth reading for anyone who's ever wondered where your gadgets came from and what sort of measures are taken to keep costs down and profits up.
Also worth keeping in mind that Apple is not the only company who uses these supplier channels. Pretty much every hardware vendor uses these same companies for some, or all, of their hardware components.
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