FutureFive NZ - Apple squeezes suppliers for social responsibility

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Apple squeezes suppliers for social responsibility

Apple has upped its efforts to improve worker conditions in its overseas supplier factories, auditing 229 facilities during 2011, an 80% increase over the previous year.

The company released its 2012 Suppler Responsibility Progress Report at the end of last week, adding for the first time a list of 156 suppliers accounting for 97% of Apple’s manufacturing spend. 

The reading isn't always pretty - for example, 93 facilities were found to have had over 50% of employees exceeding Apple's specified limit of 60 hours per week in at least one week during a 12-week sample period.

However, Apple has specified the responses it made to the violations that were uncovered, and CEO Tim Cook has sent an email to staff (and thus the public) ensuring everyone that the system is working. 

"Thanks to our supplier responsibility program, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers,” Cook says in the email, published in full by French site MacGeneration.

"To prevent the use of underage labour, our team interviews workers, checks employment records and audits the age verification systems our suppliers use.

"We’ve also used our influence to substantially improve living conditions for the people who make our products. Apple set a new standard for suppliers who offer employee housing, to ensure that dormitories are comfortable and safe.”

Cook goes on to mention the free education programs Apple is offering at many Chinese manufacturing sites, and reveal that Apple has become the first technology company to be approved for membership in the Fair Labour Association, a non-profit organisation that independently audits factories for worker treatment.

"No one in our industry is driving improvements for workers the way Apple is today,” Cook concludes.

Go here to read Apple’s report, and to check out its list of suppliers. 

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