Apple Chinese Supplier Terminated Due to Child Labor

Apple is struggling to resolve the same issues that consistently persist in its supply chain, especially in China: Child labor, forced excessive worker hours and poor safety conditions. Apple’s latest Supplier Responsibility 2013 Report details the company’s findings and underlines the company’s underage labor policy, as it terminated a partnership with a Chinese supplier.

During its site inspections, Apple found that the Chinese supplier had 74 cases of workers under the age of 16.

As a result, the supplier, Guandong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics, saw its contract terminated, and the report points out that it’s also tackling the underlying problem by identifying and notifying authorities of any third-party labor agent that willfully and illegally recruited young workers.

And there are such agencies, like Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources Co., Ltd.,  which Apple inspectors found to have conspired with families to forge age verification documents and make the workers appear older than they actually were.

Apple’s effort in contributing to better working conditions and applying company policy among its suppliers has had some positive results: No underage labor was found among its final assembly partners, but as the aforementioned agency and the above supplier’s case shows, there are still issues further down the supply chain.

As of November, Apple has been monitoring more than a million workers, and the company is working  with the Fair Labor Association (FLA).

The FLA led all of the 393 audits throughout last year, which is the most comprehensive investigation of Apple’s complex supply chain, involving 1.5 million workers spread across 14 countries.

During the audits, Apple and the FLA found that there was an average of 82% compliance with a maximum 60-hour week for factory-floor workers, and the Cupertino company got suppliers to return a total of $6.4 million to employees last year, which was held back by recruiters as an “excessive recruitment fee” to get a job at a plant.

The full 37-page report is available for download on Apple’s website.

Written by Istvan Fekete, with contributions from, and editing by Mike Crook