Global technology giant Apple has unearthed more than 100 cases of child labor after an internal audit peeled back the layers of its supply chain.
Apple’s 2013 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, which highlights its 2012 findings from 393 audits at all levels of its supply chain, found 11 facilities with underage labor and a total of 106 active cases and 70 historical cases.
According to the report, which reviewed sites where more than 1.5 million workers make some of the world’s leading products such as the iPhone and iPad, the company also discovered wage problems and forced pregnancy tests, which it swiftly sort to rectify.
In relation to the shocking child labor findings, the report said that in all but one case, the facilities had insufficient controls to verify age or to detect false documentation, but stressed there was no intentional hiring of underage labor.
In one case in China, Apple’s detailed audit found the extent of the violation was so pervasive – finding 74 cases at one facility, that it terminated business with the supplier.
“The issues found by Apple are indicative of the tightening labor market in China and a changing social landscape. Apple is working hard with suppliers to support them to develop responsible recruitment systems,” the report stated.
The workers, who were all under 16, had been supplied by a regional recruitment company who gave them fake identity papers, the US tech-giant said.
Apple also requires any offending suppliers to return underage workers to school and finance their education at a school chosen by the family.
Forced pregnancy tests
The audit found that a total of 34 facilities required pregnancy testing and 25 conducted medical testing such as hepatitis B tests – Apple quickly enforced a ban on such discriminatory screenings.
In a bid to get to the core of any problems, over the past seven years, Apple has been publishing reports on the audits it performs in its supply chain.
Apple says it is going deeper into the supply chain than any other company to report at a level of detail that is ‘unparalleled in its industry’.
The audit also found that four facilities provided falsified payroll or attendance records to Apple’s audit team, 177 facilities did not have proper emergency exit safety procedures, 147 were not properly storing, moving, or handling chemicals and one supplier was found intentionally dumping waste cutting oil into the restroom receptacle.
Despite the vast array of problems detected, Apple has put new schemes and systems in to put an end to many of the issues found.
“if a violation is particularly egregious, or if we believe a supplier is not fully committed to stopping the behavior, we terminate our relationship with that supplier and, when appropriate, report the behavior to the proper authorities,” the report stated.