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Apple Enforces "Supplier Code of Conduct" After Child Labor Discovery

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the thou-shalt-not-employ-children-or-copy-music-from-your-ipod dept.

Apple 249

reporter writes "Since 2006, Apple has regularly audited its manufacturing partners to ensure that they conform to Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct (ASCC), which essentially codifies Western ethical standards with regard to the environment, labor, business conduct, etc. Core violations of ASCC 'include abuse, underage employment, involuntary labor, falsification of audit materials, threats to worker safety, intimidation or retaliation against workers in the audit and serious threats to the environment. Apple said it requires facilities it has found to have a core violation to address the situation immediately and institute a system that insures compliance. Additionally, the facility is placed on probation and later re-audited.' Apple checks 102 facilities, most of which are located in Asia, and these facilities employ 133,000 workers. The most recent audit of Apple's partners revealed 17 violations of ASCC. The violations include hiring workers who were as young as 15 years of age, incorrectly disposing of hazardous waste, and falsifying records. In Apple's recently released Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report (PDF), they condemned the violations and threatened to terminate their business with facilities that did not change their ways."

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Apple reaches a new low (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305396)

i thought they couldnt get any lower

Re:Apple reaches a new low (4, Informative)

Random5 (826815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305436)

It's the chinese manufacturers who are doing this, apple is cracking down on it and fining them for it you moron. (And I hate apple BTW)

Re:Apple reaches a new low (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305468)

And I have to give Apple my kudos for this.

Re:Apple reaches a new low (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306166)

And i give Kodos(and Kang) my apples for something that has nothing to do with anything.

Re:Apple reaches a new low (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305614)

The extremely poor practices of Chinese manufacturers were known about years before Apple started dealing with them. Apple should have known better than to get involved with them in the first place. For the amount of money they charge customers for their products, one should almost expect them to be manufactured in America.

Re:Apple reaches a new low (5, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305678)

except you know, they dont charge any more than anyone else. There IS NO APPLE TAX anymore. Stop comparing POS computers to a standard Apple configuration and actually you know configure a Dell to match a Apple. You WILL be surprised.

Exactly the opposite, genius (4, Informative)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305578)

From page 13 of the summary report:

[quote]During most of our audits, suppliers stated that Apple was the only company that had ever audited their facility for supplier responsibility.[/quote]

IOW, other companies don't give a shit about abusive labor practices from their suppliers. They might pay lip service but no one's really doing any audits to actually check. Apple, OTOH, is going out there and digging around to make sure their suppliers are in compliance with labor and environmental standards.

New low? This is leadership in defining a more responsible way to do business.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305992)

More like Apple is making sure their not producing cheaper versions for sale on the knockoff market.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306044)

From page 13 of the summary report:

[quote]During most of our audits, suppliers stated that Apple was the only company that had ever audited their facility for supplier responsibility.[/quote]

IOW, other companies don't give a shit about abusive labor practices from their suppliers.

Two things.

First, they stated that during most of the audits the supplier told them they hadn't been audited. Most is not defined here: it may have been 50.1%, with the other 49.9% of suppliers having never been audited by anyone else because they don't supply anyone else. On top of that, if the supplier had been audited by another company and found to be in breach of their standards, are they likely to tell Apple that for fear of Apple getting concerned?

Second, despite what that report implies Apple aren't the only company to do this:

"In 2008, HP conducted 129 supplier site audits...Ninety-nine of our 2008 audits were follow-up audits to measure progress in reducing nonconformances found during initial reviews...To date, we have assessed and audited (for high-risk sites) suppliers representing over 95 percent of our product materials and manufacturing spend."

"Our priorities include protecting workers’ rights, dignity and respect, raising health and safety standards, minimizing the environmental impact of producing and distributing our products, and upholding the highest standards of business ethics."

  (Taken from here [hp.com] and here [hp.com] .)

I haven't even checked if any other company does it, so who knows who else does. Bear in mind that the Apple report was written by Apple. They're not going to kick themselves in the nuts if they can help it.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (0, Troll)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306184)

Yet again Apple is heralded on Slashdot for "inventing" something the rest of the business has been doing for years. See EICC [eicc.info] or Dell's [dell.com] involvement in it which started in 2004. Apple has been criticized for many years for the sweatshop suppliers they use for the iPod and iPhone. And now all is forgiven because of empty ceremonial lip service?

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (1)

kwark (512736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306396)

And many others, Made in China [bbc.co.uk] is quite interesting to watch.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306462)

Yet again Apple is heralded on Slashdot for "inventing" something the rest of the business has been doing for years.

Bullshit. A quick text search shows that you're the only one here using the term "invent". Go build a strawman somewhere else.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306556)

Which part of the summary heralds Apple's invention of this idea?

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (5, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306576)

Yet again Apple is heralded on Slashdot for "inventing" something the rest of the business has been doing for years.

Please provide a citation.

See EICC [eicc.info] or Dell's [dell.com] involvement in it which started in 2004.

What Apple has done differently that I see, is they actually openly published the results of their audits so others can check and so the public can see how long they keep doing business with companies that violate their code of conduct. Clearly Dell and every other company has a published code of conduct created by their PR department. So far I haven't yet found any other company that has actually published the results of an audit yet, nor what companies they have stopped doing business with. Mostly I just see weasel words like about making partners progress towards less human rights violations, which does not even make it clear if they refuse to do business with companies that make no progress and don't stop these abuses, if said companies even know about it.

I'm not even excusing Apple here. I'm just saying they took one small step towards transparency and real accountability in the industry and that deserves our praise. I'll be just as loud decrying them if in two years Apple hasn't checked back, hasn't stopped doing business with these companies, and it is discovered the unfair practices have not been stopped.

Re:Exactly the opposite, genius (3, Insightful)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306454)

IOW, other companies don't give a shit about abusive labor practices from their suppliers. They might pay lip service but no one's really doing any audits to actually check. Apple, OTOH, is going out there and digging around to make sure their suppliers are in compliance with labor and environmental standards.

New low? This is leadership in defining a more responsible way to do business.

See, and that's the new low - that's just Apple marketing to make the others look bad.

What's the problem? (4, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305420)

The kids get free black turtlenecks to wear after 10 years of employment. Sounds good to me.

Re:What's the problem? (0, Offtopic)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305442)

I think the problem is that someone's going to come along and say that Apple is trying to backpedal on the GPL [slashdot.org] somehow because they are attempting to enforce restrictions on third parties.

Re:What's the problem? (2, Funny)

Bysshe (1330263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305896)

Yeah... but they have to make the turtleneck themselves.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306618)

and all unsold iPads

Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (4, Insightful)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305424)

It's amazing that the mainstream public can be this economically retarded, but it isn't very surprising given that their education is controlled by the government - the very entity that benefits from these sorts of regulations.

Individuals, including children, choose to work in "sweatshops" because that is better than other alternatives available to them: backbreaking subsistence agriculture, crime, prostitution, etc. Simply outlawing free market in labor will not make schools, hospitals, and personal wealth rain from the sky! Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks and skyscrapers in just a couple of generations, while the "well-intentioned" socialist cesspools remain poor except for the handouts of others (often too through government force).

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305494)

In fact, wealth does "rain from the sky" in the form of humanitarian aid.

Of course, undercutting the local farmer put him out of business too, but he can get his free rice from the nice NGO people like everyone else.

Parent poster ignores the Third World cronyism. (4, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305526)

The problem is that the countries that still have it as a problem also have a government-business relationship that is "too friendly". Those factories could willfully ignore law and kill their critics.

Just because it may be their only practical choice does not invalidate that it is a bad one. Rewarding those businesses for pursuing that government policy is not going to make it any better.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (4, Interesting)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305540)

Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks

Examples ?

Look at Korea (1, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305782)

Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks

Examples ?

South Korea is a notable example of this, because it's right next to North Korea, which shares the same culture and history, up to 1950. Then the country was split in two and each half adopted a different economic orientation. Look at the results today.

Re:Look at Korea (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305912)

The chaebols/jaebols aren't much better in that regard. The underlying problem still exists, except that they have an actual choice in the matter.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306218)

Hong Kong. Taiwan. Most of what we now consider to be the first world.

It sucks that children have to work, but that's not the worst option in underdeveloped countries. My grandfather had to start working at around 13, and that was in the worker's paradise that was the Soviet Union.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306280)

The USA? My grandfather cut sugar cane 14 hours a day, 6 days a week for 25 cents.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306302)

Addendum: of course, we had to outlaw child labor, and do dirty socialist public education and infrastructure projects to get here. ;)

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (3, Funny)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306392)

And he had to walk uphill to and from school with no shoes in winter too.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305750)

There is something lacking in that train of thought. I think what is lacking is foresight and long-term thinking.

We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay. So what are the alternatives? Of course -- have more children who can them in turn, earn money. The problem with this? The children, and by extension, the workforce becomes very uneducated... even more than in places where the government controls education. Spending one's learning years at work means bad things for the future of a workforce and for a community. The whole point of child labor laws is to allow children to become educated and to decide for themselves what they will do with their lives when they are old enough.

Without this regulation against the free market, the market would drive its labor force to death and into animal-like stupidity.

Further, as you seem to believe in the free market, let's look at it another way -- by pulling workers out of the labor pool, we are making the labor resource more scarce making the resource more valuable and therefore raising the rates of pay for those who remain at work. So child labor laws might also serve to improve the amount of money that comes into individual families.

The very idea of nations "growing up" more quickly using the broken backs of 10 year olds is simply too repugnant to discuss. Even if this were viewed as a grand sacrifice, we know that only very few would benefit from this growth while the masses would remain in suffering.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305984)

this isn't "child labor", it's teenage labor. if a 15 year old can earn some money, let him. in our culture we have 15 year old babies that can't do a thing for themselves, high school is doing nothing for them.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306104)

No one is arguing against a teenager getting a part time job in suburban U.S.A. What is being argued is what is wrong with child labor as in "this is what you will do for the rest of your life because you won't be able to go to school because this will stunt your mental growth" kind of thing.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (5, Interesting)

NtroP (649992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306590)

No one is arguing against a teenager getting a part time job in suburban U.S.A. What is being argued is what is wrong with child labor as in "this is what you will do for the rest of your life because you won't be able to go to school because this will stunt your mental growth" kind of thing.

As someone who grew up in a "3rd-world country" I have news for you. Most people are finished with school by age 12. A 15-year-old is considered an adult and often is married and has at least one kid by then. We treat teen-agers like children in the US and Canada and they fulfill that expectation spectacularly - in fact, you aren't a "real" adult until 21 and then insurance companies rape you and you can't rent a car, etc., until you are 25. We put up with and even encourage infantile behavior by our teens and young-adults. And then we impose our beliefs on the rest of the world.

If Apple wants to make it's world-wide policy match our expectations, fine. They talk about these companies hiring workers "as young as 15". Well, that 15-year-old, who very possibly is married with a family and obviously wanted the job (I didn't hear that they were rounding up workers at gun-point) and obviously capable of doing the job (what job was that? Taking out the garbage? Putting the manual and CD in it's sleeve?) otherwise they wouldn't have been hired.

I would applaud Apple for standing up for what they believe in, but I fear that it's more to appease the ignorant, myopic American public and their America-centric world-view than any real conviction on the subject. And I feel bad for the young adults who were fortunate to land an excellent, high-paying job (for that part of the world) who will now be unemployed.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306750)

*shrug* my wife is from Cambodia, she had 8 hour job at 14 selling cigarettes, umbrellas and fruit juice in restaurants. Eighth grade education normal for fortunate women there. For that matter, even my grandfather in USA had eighth grade education and went to work after that, normal at the time in part of country where he lived. How about we quit ramming our stupid culture down every other culture's throat?

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306508)

If my 15 yr old wants some spending cash you bet they can get their butt out on a paper route or babysitting or neighborhood yard work. I have no problem with "child labor" as a concept, it's a great idea on multiple fronts, teaching responsibility, the value of money, the benefits of being employed, etc.

The problem is it's so incredibly easy for big business to abuse, that it has to be outlawed for the most part. The idea is good, the practice is bad. Things like paper routes and babysitting tend to be self-limiting (due to the narrow window of time per day you can actually do them) so they're not really abusable. Manufacturing plants that can run 24/7 naturally are where the problems crop up.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306120)

"We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay. So what are the alternatives?"

Or because dad's dead and mom's debilitated. Most countries have the teenagers help out in the fields even if they don't get work in the factories. In fact, most western countries did that not so long ago. I agree with the OP above that this is less black and white than we make it out to be. A 15 year old works in a factory because it helps feed his family and that is the least heinous way for him/her to do it. If the family were already sufficiently fed, it wouldn't be happening. The problem, then, shouldn't be stated as "these countries have child labor and we should hand down our western view that this isn't okay" and more stated as "these countries are so poor that even their children have to go to work, how can we help them to become prosperous enough that this isn't required?" Simply not allowing that to happen is not the solution. What needs to happen is overall economic improvement of the country FIRSTLY, then work to lessen teenage labor since it is no longer necessary SECONDLY.

It is easy for us, as westerners in developed countries, to say, "Hey we don't need child labor and we think it is kind of icky so we are going to force you not to have it." It is a lot more difficult to say "we recognize child labor is a huge problem and that the underlying problem is poverty, so instead of trying to force our laws down your throat we will try to help you out of poverty while being sensitive to where you are economically and culturally so that we can gradually negate the need for these injustices."

Note that I am not saying that child labor is okay or that it is the way for a nation to grow up more quickly. What I am saying is that we need to treat the cause not the symptoms. Simply requiring countries not to have child labor is akin to lancing spots of a person with chicken pox. Sure we remove the pox from their skin, but they are left with chunks of their skin taken out and they still have the chicken pox. The only sustainable solution, then, is to treat the disease, and as it goes away we can treat the symptoms as well.

Re:Child labor laws keep millions in poverty. (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306430)

We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay.

Or, alternatively, because the owners aren't able to pay enough. I mean, let's imagine you have three options: don't pay enough for one person to keep an entire family fed, fire everyone and close down the factory, or go bankrupt, fire everyone, and then close down the factory.

Which do you choose?

by pulling workers out of the labor pool, we are making the labor resource more scarce making the resource more valuable and therefore raising the rates of pay for those who remain at work. So child labor laws might also serve to improve the amount of money that comes into individual families.

This line makes the broken window fallacy look practically unassailable in comparison.

Wait a minute (5, Insightful)

Random5 (826815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305428)

Hiring 15 year olds is illegal? Quick, someone tell the authorities about McDonalds!

Re:Wait a minute (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305512)

I don't know where you live, but where I grew up, 14 and 15 year olds were not hired by McDonalds.. Maybe it was just my states weird laws about not letting kids work near stoves, grills, vats of boiling oil, etc... However, I did work at one when I was 16..

Re:Wait a minute (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305654)

Here in TN, with parental consent forms signed, you can work at McDonald's at age 15+ (16+ w/o such a form).

What makes a 16 yr old any more responsible then a 16 yr old is beyond me, though.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305976)

Magic.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305934)

In Penna, I worked at a McDonald's clone at age 15. 20 hours per week, max, I had to be OUT OF THE STORE before 11:00 PM, no grill work, but I did drop fries into the deep fryer. Child labor is legal here, but it's strictly regulated. Oh yeah, as I recall, I had to take some form to school to be signed.

I eventually quit that job, because I made more money at age 14 mowing lawns. In today's world, a 14 year old kid mowing lawns would probably call some guy name "Juan" his boss.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

Random5 (826815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306458)

Here (australia) it's allowed from about 14 up with parental consent and limited hours. Over there conditions certainly aren't going to be that great but the alternatives aren't good either for a lot of people.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305550)

Except that reporting a safety violation at a McDonalds in the First World isn't an implied death sentence. It's more likely to have the violation corrected.

Re:Wait a minute (2, Insightful)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305754)

Hmm, I recall I was voluntarily working from as young as 13, and in fact I've worked basically every year since then. I just wanted to, it just seemed like the natural thing to do, as I've always loved making money. Gee, it never even occurred to me that I'd stumbled into being a 'victim' of child labor. I'm glad nobody "saved" me; the money I earned helped contribute to my cost of living while studying at university.

Re:Wait a minute (4, Insightful)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306372)

I started out at 15 making $5/hr assembling 386's. There's a problem here, but it's not strictly about the age. It's *what* you have 15yo's doing and under what conditions.

Re:Wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306636)

Times have changed. I was working in fast food when I was 14, with legal working permit from the state. There were rules; 20 hours max per week, out of the store by 10 PM. I started working at age 12 on farms in the area. No one thought this was wrong they thought it was a sign of good character.

Make it in the Third World, what do you expect? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305454)

That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

Re:Make it in the Third World, what do you expect? (4, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305640)

That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

Apple has threatened to terminate its business relationship with these companies. If the companies fail to satisfy Apple, and Apple makes good on its threat, I'd call that a meaningful punishment.

If Apple stop doing business with a company that won't ensure a safe working environment for its employees, will the root of the problem get fixed? No, of course not, not right away. Apple will switch to another company, and the first company will have one less (rather large) customer. But they'll be able to find other customers, perhaps who are less scrupulous, and the employees will still have unsafe working conditions.

Or maybe, they won't be able to find other customers. Or the other customers they find, will have similar policies in place. Maybe the owners of the company will realize that if they want to continue to attract Western business, they need to make some changes - not due to respect for their employees, but because they need to pass these inspections in order to keep their customers happy.

Re:Make it in the Third World, what do you expect? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305670)

The meaningful punishment is the loss of Apple's business (which would be quite significant).

Re:Make it in the Third World, what do you expect? (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305698)

That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

Assuming that Apple is a major client and significant source of income for these companies, then they do have real clout. Money clearly is a motivating tool for these people since that's the main benefit of child labor in the first place.

Re:Make it in the Third World, what do you expect? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305790)

Since there's no Reply All in slashcode:

If they enforced it to the letter and did so strictly(given the various means for which it is ignored or circumvented), then it wouldn't be the exception to hear of good conditions and living critics.

Age restrictions work against them (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305472)

In these countries, many families struggle to put food on the table. By allowing their children who are able to work go to work in the factories, these families are better able to care for each other.

These are dangerous smelting factories or weapons manufacturing plants. They are electronics assembly lines. Lines which could essentially be replaced by robotics except that humans are cheaper. No kid is in danger of having his arm sliced off.

Enforcing Western-style regulations in Western countries makes sense, but in poor countries, having an extra set of hands working besides mom and dad is a real boon.

I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas. It's more White Man's Burden than Protect The Children. But really, when you think about it, those two concepts are essentially the same, and it reeks of condescension.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305482)

I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas. It's more White Man's Burden than Protect The Children. But really, when you think about it, those two concepts are essentially the same, and it reeks of condescension.

"Apple: The New Colonialism" (TM)

Re:Age restrictions work against them (4, Informative)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305496)

From TFA:

In the case of the underage labor, three facilities had hired 15-year-olds in countries where the minimum employment age is 16.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (2, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305946)

And how many of those countries had a minimum employment age of at least 16 in order to avoid being accused of employing child labour by the West?

Re:Age restrictions work against them (2, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305970)

That's a violation of an employment law, but it's not an egregious child slavery operation. 15 year olds working when the minimum employment age is 16 is very different from putting 8 year olds in effective slavery in factories. I think that was the GP poster's point.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305548)

Exactly. It's real easy to tell others how to live when you don't have to deal with their issues - or stand in their shoes.

It's real easy to tell someone to get a decent pair of shoes when you can afford it and it's especially insulting when you don't offer the other person to buy a decent pair of shoes for them.

Mod parent down for supporting cronyism. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305616)

Not supporting such government-business relationships is not condescending at all. In a way, it is doing them a favor by providing the right incentives to end it by cutting outside support.

They aren't going to use robotics if those extra set of hands keeps them from political pursuits. That is, political pursuits that bring an already unstable country to a ill-timed(for them, well-timed for the US) regime collapse.

Mod parent down for stupidity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305638)

Using moderation to stifle the free exchange of ideas is exactly the type of thing I would expect from an anarcho-socialist like you.

Use your ability to argue, don't depend on others to win debates for you.

Re:Mod parent down for stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305774)

Using moderation to stifle the free exchange of ideas is exactly the type of thing I would expect from an anarcho-socialist like you.

Use your ability to argue, don't depend on others to win debates for you.

That's anarcho-socialist-fascist.

Geeeze you really need to learn you're polico-name-calling-insults!

Re:Age restrictions work against them (2, Interesting)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305738)

> I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas.

Really? Every time there's even a hint that Apple's subcontractors are hiring underage workers, or not paying them enough, or have dangerous conditions I see a dozen articles about how soul-suckingly evil Apple must be to allow this to go on (behind their back). Of course they're going to enforce the regulations...

I'm inclined to agree though. Addressing the issue of child labor in poor countries by firing all the children is not a solution. A much more useful response would be to examine the situation of these 15 year olds (are they pushed into it by a family that's just being greedy, or by circumstances) and to resolve the underlying cause, not just ban the situation and hope everything works out.

Reminds me of a lot of the arguments against prostitution (that the women are forced into it by being poor, which clearly leads to the conclusion that making prostitution illegal will stop people being poor).

Re:Age restrictions work against them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305862)

Idiot. Most children are able work in the factories, but their place is at school so they can hope for a better life.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306142)

Yup.

They need to waste 13 years in school before starting their factory job.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305996)

I see your point and I knida agree, but will the press see it that way?

Re:Age restrictions work against them (5, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306000)

These conditions are enforced to maximise profit. When citizens of countries working under conditions like these seek redress there is an inevitable violent corporate sponsored government led retaliation against those seeking better conditions. If after extended period of revolution violence better conditions become available, corporation simply shift t the next country to exploit their population.

Trade should not occur upon a basis of exploitation, you are importing those working conditions along with those products, don't think so, then why are corporations and their political puppets continually saying that first world workforces has to compete, not once but over and over again. Are you ready to compete, no sick pay, no holiday pay, 50 cents an hour and, unsafe work conditions as normal practice including toxic chemicals.

It is disgusting to think anyone deems it appropriate to sponsor conditions on workers in other countries that they themselves would not accept. It reeks of greed and lies to assume that somehow poor people in other countries are born to work in poverty, they are bred to be mindless factory drones from birth, cheaper than robots.

Yet look around you, at your fellow migrants, people who escpaed from those conditions who managed to gain a better life, according to you, they couldn't possibly exist because they are happy to be factory slaves so why would they leave.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306318)

So if I'm some executive who make a million dollars a year, I can't buy anything because every product I could buy would be produced by people with worse working conditions than I would accept?

Re:Age restrictions work against them (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306086)

For countries to grow, they must each have an Industrial Revolution where they compete with the tools available. That means low wages and often child labor. The alternative is to lose, not to bypass the process and leap straight to a modern world with union benefits in a socialist utopia.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (1)

tukang (1209392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306244)

In these countries, many families struggle to put food on the table. By allowing their children who are able to work go to work in the factories, these families are better able to care for each other.

These are dangerous smelting factories or weapons manufacturing plants. They are electronics assembly lines. Lines which could essentially be replaced by robotics except that humans are cheaper. No kid is in danger of having his arm sliced off.

Enforcing Western-style regulations in Western countries makes sense, but in poor countries, having an extra set of hands working besides mom and dad is a real boon.

I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas. It's more White Man's Burden than Protect The Children. But really, when you think about it, those two concepts are essentially the same, and it reeks of condescension.

American child labor laws were passed in the 30s, a time when the US economy more closely resembled that of today's developing countries. I think that children are especially vulnerable in places where poverty is prevalent because parents are more likely to neglect their children and often come to the wrong conclusion that trading their children's education for a job is in the child's best interest.

Education is the only way to break the poverty cycle and because impoverished parents may (understandibly) be tempted to send their children to work, I think that these policies make perfect sense.

Re:Age restrictions work against them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306320)

i applaud your traditional thinking... your ideas show leadership in returning the world to the 17th century

15 year olds in 3rd world countries NEED jobs (2, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305560)

Different cultures have different ages where they need to become self-sufficient, or become responsible to help out with the family income. This whole 18 or 21 year old "western" ideal of adulthood is destructive to our own development in many ways, and should not be forced onto other countries with drastically different ways that the people grow up.

Western Ethics (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305562)

If they want western ethics then get suppliers in countries that have laws and in general follow those rules.
Unless they are incompetent, they expect them to break Apples rules and are OK with this since they will also supply them with cheap labor.

underage employment (2, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305618)

Whenever I hear underage employment I always wonder is it really all that bad?
In countries that practice it they have children starving on the streets, so no matter how bad the conditions are relative to how we would want the conditions to be I am sure the children would rather work for cents a day then to starve to death on the streets.
Now I am sure in many cases it is doing the children a favor to stop underage employment, but I always wonder how many children have starved to death because of Western ethics.

how far are they going? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305636)

hard drives, ram, cpu too?

I'm sure they are up to it as well

To those who support it... (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305686)

...a bad choice is not made any better if you have no alternatives.

The age wouldn't be an issue if critics didn't end up dying, and those who worked there didn't resemble the output end of a meat grinder. That's not condescending at all to ask that critics be allowed to live, and those whom work there have some actual choice in the matter.

Thank you Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305690)

for not sensationalizing this story. Many other news sites have titles such as "Apple admits to using child labour" or "Child abuse under Apple's watch". Pathetic attempts to grab eyeballs when in reality Apple is the only organization (that I have heard of) that actually audits its manufacturing partners in a proactive manner.

Re:Thank you Slashdot... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306136)

It's the standard rule for Apple. If they do something, or if there's even a mere rumour about a new product, it gets reported wildly by the media, with tonnes of hype and sensationalism, even if there have been other actual products doing the same for years beforehand.

You can't have it both ways, and go crying when it backfires. Let's wait for the special pleading now - "It doesn't matter that Apple weren't the first to employ child slaves, the point is that they were the ones to popularise it"...

What are you doing? These are mine! (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305746)

These are my workers. They should be on my train. They're skilled ipod workers. They're essential. Essential girls. Their fingers polish the insides of ipod metal casings. How else am I to polish the inside of a 8GB ipod casing? You tell me. You tell me!

Re:What are you doing? These are mine! (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305822)

(yes, I know the sarcasm)

Robots.

They'll shine them faster, better, and you don't have to kill them(since they really don't complain). They'll pay for themselves in a short time.

Save your guns for the critics outside.

Got to love weasels (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305752)

"In general," Apple said in the report, "annual audits of final assembly manufacturers show continued performance improvements and better working conditions."

Or translated into English, "it used to be we didn't care, but now we have announced once a year inspections, we find that each time they get better at hiding violations from us".

I wonder what the Toyota scandal will do with all of this however. They are paying the price for random outsourcing to safe some bucks and it is costing them a fortune and decades of good will as the most reliable cheap car maker are shot to hell. (And yes I am aware that the problems occurred in the US, but that is a low wage country compared to Japan.)

When you outsource everything, what is left of your company? And once you put in place all those checks to make sure people half way across the world are working as you want them, how much have you actually saved?

Re:Got to love weasels (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305846)

Your core business. At least that's what's purported to be the case. The reality is that you've dumped the accountability in the process.

I'm betting that you're also aware of Toyota Tsusho, and their Myanmar / China operations - as well as the Chinese immigrants that make those Japanese cars(in Japan, of all places).

Code of conduct? (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305818)

So Apple is to give a new code of conduct for it's suppliers, I too have a code of conduct, "Don't buy Apple products." I think mine trumps Apple's code of conduct, whatever their PR department says.

Re:Code of conduct? (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306060)

So Apple is to give a new code of conduct for it's suppliers, I too have a code of conduct, "Don't buy Apple products." I think mine trumps Apple's code of conduct, whatever their PR department says.

So you buy your computer hardware from companies that do not have an enforced code of conduct for labor overseas thereby contributing to horrible human rights abuses? Seriously, I want to know who you buy hardware from and why you think that is less evil.

Bring back the jobs to the US! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305842)

This is all nice of Apple, but why not giving 133,000 jobs to Americans that need them.

I am happy a 15 years old is not going to be exploited in China, but I would be happier seeing Apple being a true American corporate and not a hypocrite firm that outsources jobs overseas

Re:Bring back the jobs to the US! (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305988)

This is all nice of Apple, but why not giving 133,000 Jobs to Americans that need them.

What American in their right mind would want their own Steve Jobs? And how the hell did Steve manage to clone himself 132,999 times without anyone noticing?

Re:Bring back the jobs to the US! (3, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306186)

Ummm, seriously? Assuming the average fully laden cost of a US worker is $50,000 a year, you are talking about $6-$7 billion dollars in direct labor costs here in the US. But now your factories need to be built here in the US, you need US land, factory equipment and machines sourced in the US (these can be 3-4 times more expensive than the equivalent sourced in China), you raw materials have to be sourced here, and you need to maintain larger inventories of components that are still only made in Asia. I would imagine that this would add at least $12-15 billion dollars in total cost to Apple's business, perhaps even more (direct labor costs usually are less than half the cost difference between manufacturing in the US and manufacturing in Asia). Their EBITDA is currently around $14B, and net income is about $9B. You have now taken a highly profitable company and made it into another large American manufacturing company selling lots of product but hemorrhaging *billions* of dollars a year. Just like our auto industry.

Anyway, just pointing out how the economics work. There's a reason relatively little manufacturing is done in the US anymore, except for highly taxed and protected industries like defense or aerospace, high end or luxury niches, and products where the value/volume ratio makes it unprofitable to manufacture abroad and ship to the US.

Re:Bring back the jobs to the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306654)

Move manufacturing to Canada, where you'll get workers lining up to do the same work for CAD$20,000 instead of USD$50,000.

Apple admits using subtle and precise child labour (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305864)

In its annual supplier report, Apple has admitted that its Chinese factories have employed children to build its gadgets. "Ones with a particularly refined sense of aesthetics [newstechnica.com] ."

Apple revealed the sweatshop conditions inside the factories it uses. The child workers were found in a facility with high vaulted ceilings, elegantly crafted marble work benches and a classical quartet playing in the background in a corner of the floor. Young geniuses sat in their Aerons and levitated components into place with the powers of the mind, burning the famed Apple logo into the back of the assembled device with but a glance of terrifying but controlled power. Some lunches, with only an hour's break, would involve wines of less than ten years' vintage.

Competitors were outraged. "We are shocked, shocked to hear of Apple's ruthless exploitation of the chilll-drennn," said Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. "But then, what do you expect when they actually ask their suppliers about this stuff. Don't ask, don't tell! That's what made the 360 great!"

Apple's Chinese manufacturing facilities were the site of controversy last year when one young worker at Foxconn, who had teleported an iPhone home overnight, was found to have committed suicide by leaping from the top of the building, first breaking his own neck, and tearing out all his own fingernails on the way down. He was found with Apple logos carved into his back, obviously also self-inflicted. "A tragedy," said the report.

With the mac pro costing about $1000-$1100 more th (0, Flamebait)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305872)

With the mac pro costing about $1000-$1100 more then a pc with a much better video card and more ram IT SHOULD BE MADE IN THE USA!

Apple laptops also are over priced $1500 for a 13" screen and on board video? $1700 for 15" and on board video is just as bad! with price like that they should be made in usa to at lest make the price not look as bad as it does now.

and the mini at $800 also shows it as well.

The imac also show it as well $1500 for core 2 and 256 vram?

I hope apple does not only use the build in i3 / i5 video in there low end systems to save even more at the same price.

Re:With the mac pro costing about $1000-$1100 more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306090)

at least mac pro's use xeon chips. Most "workstations" from HP and Dell use lowend cpus. I expect xeon or opteron chips in workstations or at least an i7. I don't think you considered the CPUs. I agree the RAM and video cards are a joke.

Re:With the mac pro costing about $1000-$1100 more (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306176)

My "workstation" doesn't require a needlessly expensive CPU. It actually works out much better overall that way.

My $600 machine does a whole lot more than Apple's $600 machine that way.

For what Apple charges, they could build their machines in the US or Europe.

Re:With the mac pro costing about $1000-$1100 more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306118)

IT SHOULD BE MADE IN THE USA!.

I agree. The product would cost more and the quality would be worse... BUT IT WOULD BE MADE IN THE USA!

This is pretty callous, even for Slashdot. (3, Insightful)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306028)

I love cracking jokes about children being forced to make our crap and defending sweatshop labour as much as the next guy, but some of the comments on this story have my stomach turning. If the choice is between having families out of work and having them work for little money, then fine; run the factories. But that is a very selective framing of this issue and is utterly uninformative. The developed world (not "the West", which is a meaningless term) and our corporations interact with the third world in an extremely complex way which the above scenario completely oversimplifies.

Between extremes of us taking advantage of cheap labour, and us setting the scene for that cheap labour to exist, we are far closer to the latter option. See the progress of the IMF and the World Bank for examples.

I know the rebuttal: Well, how would you feel about paying 10x as much for your electronics !11!!1 But even if costs would escalate that high - and they wouldn't because employing our own workers instead would have loads of offsetting, positive effects for our economies and increasing salaries for impoverished workers by a factor of 10 only increases total costs by a portion of that - I'm more comfortable with that than saying that some people's lives are essentially worthless because of where they're born. And I suspect that if consumers were forced to really consider how their dollars 'supported' poor economies, maybe if all stores had to show in-store videos of their factories chugging along, then paying a little more for a higher quality product and higher quality lives wouldn't seem so bad.

How about the others? (1)

Mordac the Preventer (36096) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306040)

Do any of the other manufacturers of consumer electronics do this kind of audit?

All of this happened before... (1, Troll)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306256)

Did they not get caught doing this same crap, and sing the same tune a few years back?
I seem to remember this from 2 or 3 years ago... same tune... do it again and we won't do business with you.
Apple is full of hot air... who will make their Chinese overpriced computers for them if they don't use these suppliers?

Stuff like this: http://www.wired.com/gadgets/mac/commentary/cultofmac/2006/06/71138 [wired.com]

Ya.. Apple is really going to do something about it this time for sure... mmhmmm.....

Business as usual... (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306314)

"they condemned the violations and threatened to terminate their business with facilities that did not change their ways.

In other words, no change at all. Just enough press coverage and feigned outrage to cover themselves and shift the blame if required to do so at a later date. But nobody got fired. Nor did any contract get canceled.

What a surprise! (1)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306326)

I am shocked, (shocked!) to discover capitalists exploiting people for their own profits! Shocked I tell you!

Re:What a surprise! (2, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306530)

In Rand Land profit is the Prophet and the Prophet says greed is the only good.

Kudos and Catcalls (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306606)

Catcalls:
Um, if you outsource your business to the 3rd world you know from the start your workers will not be treated like kings.

Kudos:
Apple HAS *some* standards and DID something about it. You can't say that about too many businesses, especially IT businesses, these days.

Yawn (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306674)

Apple "condemned" and "threatened". Big deal. Wake me up when they actually fire someone.
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