LONDON – Apple, the company that has set mobile phone and computer trends with its iPhone and iPad, has reported it has a growing problem with its Chinese suppliers using workers under the legal age of 16 years.
Apple has published it latest annual report into the employment practices of its suppliers and revealed rising underage labor, despite its own efforts to address the problem.
Many of Apple's suppliers are in China and in recent years Chinese factories have turned to labor agencies and schools to help them obtain the needed numbers of workers, Apple said in the report. In China the minimum working age is 16 years. Apple commented in its progress report "We learned that some of these recruitment sources may provide false IDs that misrepresent young people’s ages, posing challenges for factory management."
And the problem is getting worse.
Apple's audit in 2010 revealed 91 cases of underage labor. In the equivalent report in 2009, 25 instances were discovered.
The trick is to say to their supplier if you employ a child under aged our business goes elsewhere and actually do it. They shouldn't have all there manufacturing in one place anyway. The only thing that works with people that abuse children is a big stick. BTW, manufacturing in the US would add about $10-$20 to the average product. With Apple's enormous margins they could easily build in the US and remain competitive. They'd only have to cut their to exec's salaries few bucks.
I wonder what the options are for the youth in China? If they don't go to work in the assembly factory is there something else that they can do? Are the alternatives safer, better conditions, better pay or worse? I would love to see more production here in the USA but the economics currently don't support it. If these companies are doing more good then harm I wonder if Apple's attempts to protect itself PR wise are helping or hurting the very people (kids) that we are concerned about?
The problem is not one of guidance but that of poverty and means. China, like some of the other developing nations, has a large population with inadequate resources for the masses. Children get driven to labour because they dont go to schools anyway. And they could do with some money for the household. However, considering that Apple should work with quality suppliers, I am shocked to learn that even the better chinese companies are employing children for work!
Ther is a big shortage of low cost work force every where. So the children who are not properly guided by their parents enter into child labour. If they do not do this no place for them till they are 16 or 18.Where will they go ?What will they do? Those with good IQ can be put back in schools and the others ?
I find it hard to believe that there were only 91 cases of underage workers when the factories employ 800K employees! I'm guessing these were only the ones who were not clever enought to not get caught. I am guessing if they were not working in the factory, they would have been in the fields instead where the pay is even worse. In a poor country it is hard to enforce child labor laws because everone in the family needs to contribute. I doubt the parents of those child laborers were complaining. I am not condoning this, but our standards are not universal.
At least they can get kids to work... I had to pay my nephew $10/hr to help me cut firewood for his grandmother this winter, and he stopped after only two days around his Christmas break from school. We had to switch from hauling small square hay bales to the large round ones we can move with a tractor because "kids" are too busy here in Missouri to work on a farm in the summer time. I'd be happy to pay Chinese kids $10/hr if they can get over here to run a chain saw and use a bale hook - it would give me more time to write software...
It is interesting to to me how many different realities are represented here and how we think everyone should live in our reality. Does this mean there is no such thing as wrong, I don't think so but getting everyone to agree on it maybe very difficult as they are fond of saying in Japan. As several people mentioned we don't even all count age the same.
"And they tried their best to get every penny from those poor suppliers... "
Uh yeah, it's called business negotiations. If the "poor supplier" thought the deal was bad, they should not engage. However, I suspect Apple (and other successful product companies) has had a net positive impact on the success and wealth of their suppliers.
On the downside, and reported on EETimes, those suppliers NOT in the Apple stream have seen a negative effect on their bottom line.
"What the hell was Apple doing in China in the first place."
For the same reason all companies who produce high demand consumer products while taking into account the demands of share holders/Wall Street are in China.
BTW: I'm all for boosting U.S. manufacturing.
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