Apple admits underage labor was used by some suppliers in China

“At least eleven 15-year-old children were discovered to be working last year in three factories which supply Apple,” Malcolm Moore reports for The Telegraph.

MacDailyNews Note: The minimum age for employment is 16, according to Apple’s report (.pdf).

Moore continues, “The company did not name the offending factories, or say where they were based, but the majority of its goods are assembled in China. Apple also has factories working for it in Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, the Czech Republic and the United States.”

“Apple said the child workers are now no longer being used, or are no longer underage,” Moore reports. “‘In each of the three facilities, we required a review of all employment records for the year as well as a complete analysis of the hiring process to clarify how underage people had been able to gain employment,’ Apple said, in an annual report on its suppliers.”

Moore reports, “Apple also said that one of its factories had repeatedly falsified its records in order to conceal the fact that it was using child labour and working its staff endlessly. ‘When we investigated, we uncovered records and conducted worker interviews that revealed excessive working hours and seven days of continuous work,’ Apple said, adding that it had terminated all contracts with the factory… In 2008, Apple found that a total of 25 child workers had been employed to build iPods, iPhones and its range of computers.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Although Apple seems to do much more than many other companies, they should continue their efforts to make sure that the people who are assembling Apple products in China and all other countries are of legal age and treated better than the accepted base standards. It’s good business, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s what we expect of Apple.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report (.pdf) can be read in full here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]


  1. Okay, don’t hate me for saying this — while I do think it is terrible for kids to HAVE to work, but they should be able to work. If they want to. That should be their own choice. Most of those countries/families are dirt poor, perhaps many are even starving, and fifteen year olds are completely capable of working, and perhaps want to work. It’s not like most modern countries where the kids can be off getting a good education instead of working…

  2. OK. I hate you for saying that. 15 year olds working 7 day weeks in factories falls along the line of kids working in coal mines. Send your 15 year old to work 14 hour days in a factory. No good for the kids, no good for the trade deficit, and no good for adult workers- Average hourly pay in China is now up to $1.17/ hour! I’ll pay an extra $10- for my iPod, thanks.

  3. Aw hell, kids born on farms have been working darn near from the time they plopped out of the womb; and that includes the U.S.

    Let’s not forget the concept that these underage workers are probably supporting their families or supplementing their ability to have the basic essentials of life. These aren’t the typical fat-assed American kid who sits around playing video games and stuffing his face with junk food.

    As for the hours worked, I wish I could have had some of them after the past godawful year. Then again, maybe if all these kids weren’t working our economy might be in better shape. Probably not.

    I await the usual insults.

  4. I think it depends greatly on what the 15 year olds were doing. Cleaning jobs and the like are OK IMO, unless of course it’s 16-hour shifts of cleaning.

    But then, if the legal employment age is 16 that’s what Apple have to enforce.

  5. Apple finds a factory where the workers were being exploited with 7 day weeks and long daily hours.

    Apple pulls it’s contracts and the workers face unemployment.

    How is this a good thing?

  6. If anyone from Apple is lurking, I would gladly pay more for products manufactured/assembled in countries that pay living wages, have real worker safety and environmental oversight and disallow child labor. GLADLY. PAY. MORE.

  7. Since when is 15 underage?  I’ve been working since the month I turned 14.

    If a kid wants to work, let him!  Then you buy a car, upgrade your wardrobe and you’re drowning in cooch.  The pretty girls can’t keep their hands off you, you’re one of the few young guys who has something going on.  You’re taking her out while other dudes are stuck collecting allowance from their parents and spending it on Xbox games.  They’re the guys who don’t pop their cherries until they get in college.

    Hard work is what separates the boys from the men.   A young man who can balance a part time job, his studies and participation in a sport is well prepared for adulthood.

  8. Why is this any surprise? We have years of documentation of shady practices by Chinese businesses – tainted food and toothpaste, lead paint in toys, unsafe tires – the list goes on.

    They’ll do anything to make some money the easy way.

  9. @Big Als MBP
    I agree. I got my first real job at 14, sure it was full time summer/part time school year, but still. Was delivering flyers and eventually newspapers door to door since I was about 9 or 10 years old.

    Now I agree, a kid shouldn’t be working full time during the school year, since they should be getting an education, and the number of hours/days they work should be certainly tightly controlled to make sure they’re aren’t burning out and still have some time for themselves. But to say they can’t work period until age 16 seems kind of odd to me.

  10. My old man was working in a factory when he was fifteen, then fibbed his way into the Army in order to get into the Korean War. Stayed in for eight years, got married and had three kids. After leaving the service he worked a full time job with two or three part time jobs for many years. Once in a great while he got a day off. He did alright.

    Thankfully, I never had to endure that. Our parents, grandparents and those before them didn’t have lives all that easier than most people in the rest of the world. They were stronger both physically and morally than we are today because of it. This country could use some of that hard earned backbone right now.

  11. hmmm. let’s see. Apple followed up on their commitment to audit their contractors for inappropriate behavior and discovered that some were engaged in behavior so egregious that they ceased doing business with them, and that some had more minor violations and corrective action was taken. But the headline reads just what exactly?

    Seems like the headline should have read “Apple keeps commitment to check up on contractors for labor and environmental compliance – finds errors – fires contractor.” Yeah – guess that would work – too accurate.

  12. Is this news? Knowing how much manufacturing and business Apple does in Asia, is this a surprise?

    We need to learn that we cannot hold the rest of the world up to our moral and cultural beliefs. to believe so is arrogant.

    If it really is an issue, it’s easy to solve. Have Apple bulid everything here. Have Apple purchase only American built parts. The average Mac will be $10,000 and an unreliable piece of crap. At least Apple will be paying astronomical union benefits.

  13. Regardless of the position that Apple takes, this sounds like a losing battle to me. As soon as you put out one fire, ten more spring up. Slavery, child abuse, starvation… If Apple made it their mission to stamp out these evils, there would be no time at all for designing Apple products. The problem is too pervasive.

    I don’t doubt that many of the underage kids who work in these Asian factories really want and need to work. But in some cases, the working conditions aren’t fit for a dog. There’s no point in pretending that the sweat shops are any less despicable than they really are.

  14. Everybody who works with factories in China knows there are under age kids working there. It’s a silent subject that nobody brings up. It’s all about meeting production dates. Everyone looks the other way.

  15. @ theloniousMac,

    “Have Apple bulid everything here. Have Apple purchase only American built parts. The average Mac will be $10,000 and an unreliable piece of crap.”

    I think it’s totally unfair to insinuate that American workers are inferior to those in China. I believe we can compete and win on any level with any other nation when it comes to engineering, design and manufacturing. If there is a quality issue, I would be more apt to blame the bean counters instead of the workers. You do us a disservice.

  16. @ alansky,

    I agree that their working conditions are undoubtedly nothing I would want to experience, and everything possible should be done to improve those conditions.

    But with the worlds population edging closer to seven billion, this type of thing will only increase. Personally, no matter how despicable, I’d rather sweat than starve.

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