Apple recently released its Supplier Responsibility Progress Report and, in it, revealed that it recently fired one of its suppliers after an audit discovered that the firm was purposefully hiring underage workers.
“In many of the cases of underage labor we’ve discovered, the culprit behind the violation was a third-party labor agent that willfully and illegally recruited young workers,” Apple explained in its report. “In January 2012, for example, we audited a supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co., Ltd. (PZ) that produces a standard circuit board component used by many other companies in many industries. Our auditors were dismayed to discover 74 cases of workers under age 16 – a core violation of our Code of Conduct. As a result, we terminated our business relationship with PZ.”
Worse, Apple found that a local labor agency was actually providing the child workers to PZ and apparently “conspired with families to forge age verification documents and make the workers seem older than they were.”
We applaud Apple for digging deeper into its suppliers and trying to stop child labor, although it’s still frightening to see that this happens on a major scale and with firms that are employed by other tech industry players.