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back to article Apple uncovers child workers in its plants

Apple has found children were hired to help build some of its products, with one employer in its Mac, iPod and iPhone supply chain falsifying records. Three facilities were found to have hired 11 workers aged 15 in countries where the minimum work age is 16, as part of the annual audit of companies adhering its supplier code of …

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Thumbs up for Apple.

It looks like they are being very responsible and proactive, rather than wait until they get some bad press and then only do a superficial review.

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Translation:

"in countries where the minimum work age is 16"

Using child labor is SOP, they just do it in countries where it happens to be legal.

"workers paying excessive recruitment fees"

I wonder what is "excessive" by their Code. An arm and _both_ legs?

"non-certified vendors for the disposal of hazardous waste"

Their production process is too dirty for most 'civilized' countries.

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Silver badge

Agreed

It would seem that the risk of child labor is somewhat of a "normal" business risk in some countries. Good on Apple for dealing with it professionally.

It is a shame that the kids only got discovered when they were finally of legal age, but I don't think you can fault Apple for not trying.

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J 3
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RE: Thumbs up for Apple.

Well, sort of. Much better that they are doing this than if they were not, of course.

But the slap on the wrist, don't do it again, bad boy!, "punishment" is quite ridiculous, I think. Oh, so the kids are now over 16, so that's fine that they had been working there for years to increase Apple's profit. Something does not compute morally in this whole story.

It would be even better if Apple (and others) were not having their products made in countries that allow that type of situation -- and the law means little. But then Apple wouldn't be able to compete and profit, so all be damned.

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Jobs Horns

@zencoder

I’m guessing they don't want kids because they aren’t allowed to use electronic shocks on them when they ask for decent working conditions in case of bad press over little charred corpses.

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FAIL

partially agree...

Its good that they've done the audit but by the sounds of the result all they've done is send the managers for "some more training" (read: a jolly) and written some more powerpoint presentations.

A company like Apple derives its position not just from its pretty products but by being able to (at least pretend) its a socially responsible manufacturer. Therefore, any breach should have a clear disincentive.

The hiring of 3 kids at 15 instead of 16 is not such a big deal to me, the falsifying of records is what needs to be punished! And you have to remember these were just the falsified records they found, i guarantee there were dozens more that were not found... All this has done is teach those companies how to hide their records better, and how to produce better fakes...

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To be fair...

It's a heck of a lot more than the others seem to be doing. Apple aren't known for transparency, but at least they are in this instance. You are absolutely right of course, more than a slap on the wrist is required.

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Quantify?

Can you quantify "others"? Relativism doesn't lessen the offence.

A slap on the wrist for using child labour is pretty unforgivable.

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Anonymous Coward

Make them like USA

Children should be in gated, high-fenced schools learning proper subjects about STDs, all the different drugs, how to say no to knife and gun crime, gangs, anti-bullying and holocaust studies like wot they done in America.

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Anonymous Coward

Partially agree

But I would hope it is with a school system like the US, which ensures from time to time kids who don't fit into the 2 or 3 main groups feel compelled to arm themselves to the teeth and gun down their "fellow"students and teachers.

Canada is disappointing in this regard...similar levels of gun ownership but considerably less of these kinds of violent episodes. Canada needs to develop a stronger sense of "you're either with us, or you're going to buy a long leather coat like a vampire movie cliché and kill us" mentality.

Back on topic...whilst I generally loathe Apple's self-congratulatory approach, I think their efforts to ensure their products are produced by a legal workforce are laudable. Won't succeed every time, but one gets the feeling they do genuinely try.

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Jobs Halo

17 violations of the core principles underlying its supplier code of conduct

1. Failing to attend daily worship (of the great Jobs)

2. Failing to spend at least 50% income on apple products

3. Painting any factory surface in a colour other than White

4. Failing to clean all surfaces 3 times a day

5. Consuming more than 1 bite of an apple or more than 10 bites of any other citrus fruit

6. Suggesting function over form to a superior

7. Considering function over form

8. Failure to turn up for organ harvesting

9. Purchasing, owning or speaking to a windows user or microsoft product endorser (henceforth known as non-persons)

10-17 are classified and require managerial status or a donation of £50,000 to access.

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Alert

Child(ish) labour

Considering the subject matter, your response says a lot about your mindset. Indeed, according to Apple's stated principles, you are definitely under-age, if not under the bridge.

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Jobs Horns

just a slap on the wrist

apple should have a zero tolerance policy with regard to gross violations of its company "code of conduct." it should have simply terminated its contracts with any manufacturer employing child labor, it's margins could certainly take the transitory hit. this way it sends a message that it so called code means nothing, so long as you say "sorry guv, won't happen again."

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Stop

Perhaps

But what if those hired were 15 years and 10 months old when they started?

And what about the other people who work in the factory and have done nothing wrong?

You could be asking Apple to completely destroy an area economically simply because of some minor rule bending.

I hope you would want the same treatment for wherever you work, i.e. have the whole place close because someone in HR broke a local employment law.

Yes, those involved should be disciplined, but to punish hundreds or even thousands (local traders, etc) of people for the actions of two or three is somewhat excessive.

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Rob
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Unhappy

More to the point

You can't ask Apple to shut down one of it's main production runs and forsake some profit just because some 3rd world factory doesn't conform to the same standards where the Apple HQ is based.

Let's face it, Apple are in less of a position to do something about it than people think, it's got nothing to do with Jobs, it's all about the shareholders. The attitude is more like "a few kids don't matter so why kill a chunk of profit, run a few reports, do a bit of investigating and tell everyone not to get caught again".

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WTF?

So what?

"Three facilities were found to have hired 11 workers aged 15 in countries where the minimum work age is 16,..."

Holy cow, I was expecting some nasty child exploitation article conjuring images of appalling sweat-shop conditions containing 5-year olds or worse scrabbling under machines catching scraps of wool and linen like that common during the industrial revolution.

So we have some guys at 15 making out they're 16 to do some iPod assembly and this is supposed to shock us? How the world has changed....

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Stop

Where?

Where does it say that these kids lied about their age?

I only read that they were hired...not that they had lied.

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Jobs Horns

High prices?

And here was me thinking Apple charged the earth for their overhyped glossy products because they were built in developed countries paying real workers real wages.

Ah.

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Jobs Horns

Exploitation starts at home!!

Bring those underage jobs back to the US!

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Audited?

"Apple audited 102 companies in 2009, up from 83 the previous year, in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and the US."

No doubt an "ISO approved" audit, instead of actually looking at the reality of low-cost third-world manufacturing ... Keep turning a blind eye, Apple. Karma's a bitch.

App^H^Hssholes.

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It all sounds too good to be true...

...are they really such saints? Reading the PDF, they sound like Rosa Luxemburg!

It's good that this sort of stuff is discussed, rather than swept under the rug.

I wonder how they can guarantee freedom of association and collective bargaining in China, where unions, except the state-sponsored one, is illegal?

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"Warning: PDF"

I like it

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Anonymous Coward

didn't they stop to wonder

when setting up they plant in a third world country, chosen specifically because it's lax labour laws make it cheap, that this sort of thing might be going on?

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re: Didn't they stop to wonder?

At a guess, yes. Hence them feeling the need to check up on it...

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't you stop to read?

The term Third World countries is rather old-fashioned and many feel rather meaningless, particularly after the end of the Cold War and that developing country is a more appropriate term for many nations who would – and I’m not sure whether countries like China view themselves a ‘Third World’ country.

However, that aside, Apple didn’t set up these plants – these are just suppliers and in many cases, Apple wouldn’t be the only customers. If you bother to look at page 16, there’s a list of the sort of things Apple was checking (e.g. occupational safety rights) – are you saying that some suppliers should be held to lower standards because of the county they’re in?

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How else?

How else are the iPod Nano's put together? Only kids have small enough fingers to do the work!

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Gates Halo

Apple:

It kills its employees

It's unsuitable for use in hospitals

It uses child labour

Microsoft really aren't going to have a problem coming up with material for their next marketing campaign, are they?

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Big Brother

Obvous when you think about it

In most families it is only the under-7s who know how to use the pvr or set the clock on the microwave. Persumably, therefore, they are the age range perfectly suited to molish them.

My big brother is really really big

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I haven't read the full report but...

Have they actually taken any action, other than name & shame?

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Go

Do other companies audit like Apple???

Good for Apple!

Do other companies perform audits, like Apple?

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Unhappy

Duh.

They're making their kit using cheap labour in developing countries which have virtually no safety standards and in many cases a proven dismal human rights record; the fact that they're exploiting the workforce is exactly what anyone with half a brain would expect to be happening. That's one of the main reasons it's so cheap to make stuff there in the first place.

Perhaps if they'd spent some of their $8.24billion profits on making their hardware in an ethical fashion they wouldn't have been in this situation.

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Joke

title...

well, as everyone knows, apple products are feats of miniturisation, adult hands are just too big to consistently build these products!

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Jobs Halo

Good for Apple

I wish Walmart would do this. And Nike. And every other large corporation for that matter.

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Joke

HAH

"Apple said the child workers are now of legal age, but the plants had been asked to provide a complete analysis of hiring processes to "clarify how underage people had been able to gain employment" and also develop management policies to ensure the practice doesn't happen again."

Need child laborers to meet a deadline? Theres an App for that.

"Overall, Apple said its audit uncovered 17 violations of the core principles underlying its supplier code of conduct. These included workers paying excessive recruitment fees and an incident where the supplier had used non-certified vendors for the disposal of hazardous waste."

.....only 17? Really? Wouldve sworn there would have been more seeing as all are made in China.

@Thomas 18

ROFL nice list :)

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Jobs Halo

Main stream press are getting it all wrong

I saw this in the Daily Mail today. Typically they are headlining that Apple are using Child labour. They have completely missed the fact that Apple is against this and are working to prevent it. This should be a story about how well large corporations are working to tackle the problem but typical sensationalism in the Daily Fail are using it to hit at Apple.

To be expected i suppose. Sigh.

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Anonymous Coward

Child labour explains...

...how they are able to produce products more cheaply than the competition.

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Child labour

The more difficult moral question might be to ask what would these children be doing instead of working in a factory... if the alternative is living on the street, "protecting" them from relatively well paid work in a factory might not actually be doing them any favours.

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Ok, so now they know...

but what are they going to do about the manufacturers? Halt business, or just rub their hands together?

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Stop

Ha

Apple have known this for quite some time, and always turn a blind eye to it.

What ever brings in the most profit is best.

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Jobs Horns

Really?

How do you know that?

Apple - "We've discovered some underage workers and this is terrible and we've dealt with it so that it never happens again"

Press - "YOU HAVE UNDERAGE WORKERS!!"

Apple - "Er... yeah... *we* just told *you* that. We're showing you how nice we are in dealing with such issues"

Press - "YOU DESERVE TO BURN IN HELL!"

Evil Jobs cos how f*cking dare Apple run these audits and post the reults?

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This from an American company

Unions = satan

Fair pay = un-American

Decent conditions = unheard of

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Legal?

It's actually legal to work from the age of 15 in the Czech Republic. Don't see any problem with that although I doubt they had any 15 year olds working in the Czech factories...

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Worldwide 11 of their workers aged 15 lied about their age to get a job?

In the First and Second World Wars it was considered admirable to lie about your age and join the armed forces and be killed. How different from today.

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FAIL

if this is made public imagine the truth

Often with these incidents (if you can cal them that) what is made public is only the pr version and the truth is mutch worse.

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FAIL

For a company selling the most expensive...

...computerised gizmos in the world, you'd think they would have their stuff manufactured in humane environments anyway, instead of in sweatshops where the workers are paid barely enough to feed themselves. let alone feed their families.

The reason children have to work in those places is so the whole family can afford to eat.

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FAIL

Have a read of Barry's post...

What utter, utter clap-trap! Look at this through rational eyes for once! Let's look at some facts shall we, Al? Apple are NOT the "most expensive". In general, their products are within £50 to £100 or less of the nearest competitor, and are £50 to £100 or less below the competitors price as often as they are above. They simply do not compete at the bottom of the market and looking at their financial results over the last couple of years, it's a good strategy, with Apple performing significantly better than Dell or HP. The other fact that should be taken into consideration is that Apple appear to be the only one of the big manufacturers that proactively monitor their suppliers. They use many of the same suppliers that their competitors use; Foxconn, Samsung etc. Judging by the report (you did actually *read* the report before you started pontificating from your high horse, didn't you?) these are not sweatshops at all. I actually go further and say that anyone that has the slightest inkling of manufacturing processes would understand that the very nature of the products being produced dictates that the Gap/Nike style "sweatshop" we have seen previously just aren't feasible in this market!

As for your pay concers, page 19 of the document sets out Apples position clearly; they found that some of their suppliers were underpaying, so Apple have demanded that employees that were underpaid were reimbursed in full and system put in place so that this will not occur again. Those that had not paid statutory benefits were also told to reimburse those employees in full. To those that had deductions as 'fines' for disciplinary action, Apple have said that they (Apple) cannot comment on the local legality of this, but they do not condone this course of action and have insisted that it is stopped.

I hear the argument for bringing those jobs back (?) to the West, but reading into it, Apple fully intend to make sure that their suppliers play by the rules, and are willing to do it openly. Condemn them for being contol freaks, by all means, but in this instance I think that it's not such a bad thing. It is unfortunate and regrettable that workers have died at these factories and plants, as El Reg has previously pointed out, BUT those suppliers supply other big manufactures too, not just Apple! So please, credit where it is due; put away the ABA stick and encourage the rest of the industry to follow suit, or even *better* them...

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FAIL

what did you expect?

Boy's Toys - made by Boys...........

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WTF?

Wow! This is weird.

El Reg does a story about Apple learning that one of its umpteen suppliers had employed kids, then all the Windoze fanbois use that actually quite positive story to vent their juvenile collective spleen at Apple.

How puerile are you guys, really? The company, like its products or not, does something that was better than doing nothing, but you pour out your frustration at being stuck with MS and accuse Apple of employing child labour. How many companies that make products for MS-based products currently employ children? Just because they don't tell you doesn't mean it ain't happening.

You really ought to turn off those ridiculous beige boxes and get out a little more.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree

Apple sucks

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