An addendum discloses for the first time the names of 156 Apple suppliers
For one thing an addendum to the report lists for the first time the names of Apple's major subcontractors -- 156 companies, many in the Far East, representing 97% of the company's supply chain. The list is available here for anyone to read.
For another, the report enumerates the violations discovered -- and Apple's responses -- in the company's 2011 audit of those suppliers. Although most electronics manufacturers rely on the same labor force to make their products, Apple tends to get singled for criticism when abuses come to light.
Apple separately listed what it called "core violations" of labor and human rights:
Although most of Apple's suppliers were discovered to be in violation of one rule or another -- nearly 70%, for example, failed to pay proper overtime -- Apple severed relations with only one of them: an unnamed "repeat offender." There was a second repeat offender, but Apple claims to be "correcting" its practices.
The audit is unlikely to satisfy critics like monologist Mike Daisey -- who reports that suppliers are routinely forewarned of Apple's inspections in time to hide their underage workers -- but the fact remains that the company is the only American electronics manufacturer we know of that bothers to conduct these yearly checks.
UPDATE: A copy of CEO Tim Cook's letter to the staff addressing the contents of the Supplier Responsibility Report has surfaced through the French site MacGeneration. Cook announces that Apple has joined the Fair Labor Association and says, among other things,
"Thanks to our supplier responsibility program, we've seen dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers. To prevent the use of underage labor, our team interviews workers, checks employment records and audits the age verification systems our suppliers use. These efforts have been very successful and, as a result, cases of underage labor were down sharply from last year. We found no underage workers at our final assembly suppliers, and we will not rest until the number is zero everywhere."
Full text here.
UPDATE 2: This American Life, which aired an excerpted version last week of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike Daisey's one-man show about working conditions in Apple's supply chain, asked Daisey to comment on Apple's latest progress report. Here's what he had to say:
Apple has released a list of its suppliers, but it still hides the companies it audited with anonymity. This makes it impossible to learn anything new about what is going on in Apple's supply chain, to verify anything, or hold anyone responsible. The FLA will audit a tiny percentage of Apple's factories, and also won't make public which factories they audit.
If Apple would spend less energy finessing its public image, and instead apply its efforts to real transparency and accountability, it could be a true leader for the electronics industry. Apple today is still saying what it said yesterday: trust us, we know best, there's nothing to worry about. They have not earned the trust they are asking for.
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