Indentured servants caught in Apple’s supply chain

“Apple, of course, is a designer, not a builder — it says so right on the back of every iPhone box. The builders, such as Foxconn, get the parts for Apple’s products from suppliers that are gigantic companies in their own right,” Cam Simpson reports for Businessweek. “One of Apple’s largest suppliers is Flextronics International (FLEX), a contract manufacturer based in Singapore with about 28 million square feet of factory space spread across four continents, including a plant in an industrial area south of Kuala Lumpur.”

“That’s where the cameras [Apple exec Phil] Schiller raved about [onstage at the Apple iPhone 5 event] would be made,” Simpson reports. “That meant Flextronics had to crank up its own supply chain. And that required sourcing and importing people—an army of them—to man factory lines.”

“Staffing production lines in Malaysia, where 28 plants run by 24 companies worked on Apple contracts last year, usually goes this way: Companies tap an informal, largely unregulated, and transnational network of thousands of recruiters. They fan out, often hiring subrecruiters, into the farm fields and impoverished cities of Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and even into the Himalayas in Nepal,” Simpson reports. “The positions they’re trying to fill are so coveted that they’re not merely offered, they’re sold. The brokers take fees from families, representing as much as a year or more of wages; frequently the fees are paid with loans that can take years to pay off.”

Simpson reports, “Chris Gaither, an Apple spokesman, says, ‘Apple has led the industry in uncovering and preventing the abuse of migrant workers. … We were the first electronics company to mandate reimbursement to employees who were charged excessive recruitment fees, and our program has helped contract workers reclaim $16.4 million since 2008. We aggressively investigate any claims of bonded labor where Apple products are made, and our team is continuously auditing deeper into the supply chain. We recently updated our code of conduct to require our suppliers to directly interview workers who are hired through labor brokers, as another way of eliminating unethical practices. Although Flextronics’s Bukit Raja facility is no longer in Apple’s supply chain, we take these allegations extremely seriously.'”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. “The positions they’re trying to fill are so coveted that they’re not merely offered, they’re sold.”

    Something that all the “whistle blowers” and self righteous morons who claim Apple is responsible for slave labor don’t understand is that $1 for people from third world countries does not equal $1 in the western world.

    1. Full. Of. Shit. Extreme poverty is currently defined as $1.25 or less of day. For anyone living in extreme poverty, anywhere in the world, it means not knowing if you’ll have enough food to eat every day. It means children working instead of going to school. It means dieing from easily preventable diseases because of you can’t afford both medicine and food. Paying someone only a $1 a day is slavery, anywhere on in the world. (I say “the world”, by the way, because there is in fact only one, despite what that increasingly outdated three worlds economic model from the Cold-War era implies.)

      I hope you wise up because there’s way, way, too many ignorant bastards in the world.

      1. … as you would treat yourself is one of the foundations upon which Christianity is based. If you cannot agree with the words Christ taught, you cannot be a Christian. Ergo: are you an atheist? agnostic? Jew? Muslim? Pagan? Or a dumb-ass southern “rebel” traitor to the US who makes all sorts of nutsy claims about a) Christ teaching Leviticus and b) Lee’s surrender being a talking point?

        1. Where’s the Christian tolerance, the forgiveness in you? You make your sweeping claims and blame others because you’re all butt-hurt and can’t resolve it yourself—or in church.
          Seek professional help.

          1. … my criticism of your comment shows *I* lack tolerance? Forgiveness? You may be right!
            But YOU are the one who called those following Christ’s teachings “a dangerous death cult”. While I may be able to forgive you your hatred and intolerance, there is no way I’m going to let it pass unmentioned. Hate is not an American value, it is not a Family value, and it is not a Christian value. What it IS is the value of an unthinking bigot. You enjoy throwing around “button” terms to rouse anger in others … as you just are not smart enough to come up with an argument that would impress a monkey.

            1. You don’t read well, do you?
              I said,”Liberalism is not only a mental illness, but a dangerous death cult as well.”
              Now get something to eat and lay down.
              You’ve had too much excitement today.

  2. I know sales are increasing so you need more workers, and people stop working so need to be replaced, but every time I read articles like this they talk like they’re having to hire every worker building the iPhone from scratch, as if the people making the old (now discontinued) models have just disappeared.

  3. This is a hit piece with a bad title. It would seem Apple has addressed this and never intended for it to happen.

    Can you control what the plumber, that works in your house, does to his kids at home? Are you morally obligated to make sure he doesn’t hit them or abuse them? That’s what’s implied here with Apple.

    We want grass roots Kumbaya all the way to the consumer’s pocket.


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