Apple fixing its awful Chinese labor mess, claims Cook

Tim's co says it's sorting everything out. Nothing to see here.

apple supplier responsibility report

It must be time for another Apple 'supplier responsibility' progress report. You know the drill: Apple tells us how everything's OK over in China, Congo and all the other places in its shiny supply chain.

Notably, and as if to prove the BBC wrong, Apple says its (finally) banned bonded labor.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder what took them so long.

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Tim Higgins serves a bond:

Apple Inc. is requiring factories to [cease] a controversial labor practiceknown as bonded labor, thecompany said in its annual supplier audit. … Tim Cook has been trying to combat the perception that workers in emerging markets are mistreated. … Worker advocates such as China Labor Watch have been criticalwith reports that workersare forced to work unpaid overtimein unsafe factory environments.

Suppliers often turn to third-party recruiters to find workers [who are] frequently from countries foreign to where a factory is [and] are charged fees in exchange for the job. … “It is in essence bonded servitude,”Jeff Williams, Apple senior vice president of operations, saidin an interview. … “The suppliers that hire them sometimes don’t know anything about this but the worker’s passport is sometimes held.”

In the audit, Apple said it had continued to take steps to weed out the use of minerals from mines from conflict regions such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo  MORE

並びに Daisuke Wakabayashi adds:

Apple said it is making progress eliminating so-called conflict minerals. [But] was less definitive on other issuesincluding working conditions at some suppliers, or suppliers tosuppliers.

Apple came under fire last year in a BBC documentary that accused the company of breaking promises to improve working conditions. [The company] disagreed with the BBC’s conclusionbut said that Apple investigates every claim.  MORE

But Brendon Morgan reads between the lines (and doesn't like what he sees):

When a new Apple product is being made, production ramps up massivelythis obviously necessitates a large hiring spree. … Until recently these workers could be charged more than a month’s salary in recruitment fees. … The good news is that Apple has finally got around to banning this practice.

I am shocked that this was not something that Apple suppliers were banned from doing since 2008. … Judging by the recentinvestigations by the BBC it seems that little has really changed and lots of Apple's suppliers are still treating workers terribly.  MORE

And Kate Knibbs knows how not to bury the lede:

Why the hell is this just happening now?

Apple had already been pressuring factories to recoup excessive fees. … But this is the first zero-tolerance ban. … The workers who haven'tsettle[d] their debt often get their passports takenuntil they repay [it]. … Criticism about the conditionshas persisted for years.

Before we start patting Apple on the back, let's not. … This should've been prohibited from the beginning. … Apple knew thatsupplier factories were using bonded labor back in 2013.

It's also attempting to eliminatethe blood diamonds of the tech supply world. … Also very very overdue [and] something that every tech companyneeds to stop.  MORE

Meanwhile, Juli Clover toes the line:

Apple often finds itself in the spotlight overconditions at the factoriesbut the Cupertino company has for many years held its suppliers to a strict code. … Apple's Supplier Responsibility Team conductsaudits on a regular basis so that Apple can continue to work towards improving conditions.

For its ninth annual progress report, Apple conducted 633 audits covering more than 1.6 million workers in 19 countries.  MORE

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