“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.