Apple’s Jeff Williams: We’re working to improve suppliers’ working conditions

“Apple has claimed it is making ‘concrete changes for the better’ at the factories that make its products and said criticism of the company makes it ‘stronger,'” Rhiannon Williams reports for The Telegraph. “Jeff Williams, senior vice-president of operations, said Apple was making ‘significant progress’ with the working conditions in its supply chain, despite a string of controveries.”

“Apple conducted 633 audits of its suppliers in the past year, which are designed to improve working conditions and protect the environment, covering some 1.6m workers,” Williams reports. “Of the 210 facilities which were audited for the first time, some were brand new suppliers associated with the forthcoming smartwatch Apple Watch, due to go on sale in April. In many cases, Williams says, these factories have never been audited in the past. These audits, Williams is keen to point out, are working to improve conditions. In the past year, just under $4m ($3.96m) was repaid to foreign contract workers for excessive recruitment fees charged by labour brokers, and close to $900,000 was returned to workers for unpaid overtime.”

“‘ith every audit we perform, we find violations associated with factory and worker safety,’ he said. ‘Sometimes they’re small, but they exist everywhere, and you need trained professionals as part of the factory,'” Williams reports. “The company addressed this worldwide shortage by creating the Apple Supplier Environment, Health and Safety Academy in collaboration with several universities in 2013 – an 18-month course designed to improve working conditions in facilities. More than 600 managers have been enrolled into the programme, and will, Williams hopes, help to impact positively on the entire electronics industry should they move on to work in other companies.”

Read more in the full article here.

5 Comments

  1. Apple carries the iPhone wannabe companies, who don’t seem to have an ounce of innovation between them.
    Apple carries the Air copiers.
    And Apple carries the rest of the tech industry, in terms of social responsibility.

  2. Bonded labor is a common practice in Asia and the Middle East where unscrupulous middlemen pray upon the poor who are desperate to get a job anywhere. Global businesses in general have looked the other way for decades, thus acting as enablers for unscrupulous hiring agencies.

    I can applaud Apple enough for taking a strong stand on this as well as conflict materials. If other businesses follow Apple in this effort it will make a huge difference to the lives of those who build the products we love.

    1. Apple walked into this common Asian practice with its eyes wide open. Cook & Co chose the same assembly plants that every other unscrupulous western profit-seeking corporation hired. Sorry, but Apple’s stance on maintaining acceptable labor conditions is no faster or more comprehensive than the average western electronics company. Dell, HP, MS, and others assemble their products in the same Foxconn sweatshop factories.

      Regardless of pay structure, I guarantee that nobody on MDN would be willing to take a working vacation there to assemble Apple products for a month.

      The real difference between Apple and the rest of the competition is that Apple has more than enough money to fundamentally change the game, improve production, reward good workers, and provide better employment directly or through simple requirements changes that would mandate that these middle men give employees more time off, more sick leave, and substantially better conditions. But Apple hasn’t fundamentally done any more on this than anyone else. Apple has only stepped up their investigations and a few miscellaneous toxic material bans AFTER independent audits repeatedly found violations.

      Don’t believe me? Before responding with ignorant personal insults in a vain attempt to defend the richest corporation that ever existed, why don’t you read the recent report released by China Labor Watch & GreenAmerica? At one Apple supplier, Catcher Technology, investigators found even more violations of Chinese laws and Apple’s Code of Conduct in 2014 than they did in 2013. No westerner would ever accept such conditions and unfair compensation. But many here seem to ignore Apple’s failure to police its own supply chain.

      http://www.greenamerica.org/PDF/2014-Two-Years-Apple-Broken-Promises-ChinaLaborWatch-GreenAmerica.pdf

      1. Apple contracted with the companies that were available to manufacture its products. Those facilities no longer exist in the U.S. You can blame that on a decades-long flight of corporate America to low-cost labor in order to maximize profits and avoid environmental regulations.

        Apple appears to be doing its best to improve working conditions at its suppliers. By all accounts, it is doing far more than other companies. And this burden should not be placed solely on Apple. The workers in these countries must unite to create organizations of sufficient power to battle the companies that are exploiting them. Yep, I am talking unions. When corporations abuse and exploit their workers, then the workers must fight back.

        1. Mel, the reason that those facilities no longer exist in the USA is for short-term reasoning.

          I take it you didn’t read the report I linked above. That is an account that proves that Apple is not doing its best to improve worker conditions nor to minimize its environmental damage and health problems. Apple, like most corporations, is taking a reactionary compliance approach rather than a comprehensive proactive stance. For Apple to wait for Chinese unionization is not leadership, it’s passing the buck.

          “Everybody else is doing it” is not an excuse. Cook knows the right thing to do and he can afford to implement much-needed reforms. Greed, and greed alone, is the reason western corporations work with corrupt non-democratic regimes to exploit labor and environment. Show me how Apple is different.

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