Apple sends independent inspectors to suppliers’ Chinese factories

The Takeaway

In an effort to protect its public image, Apple has hired auditors from the Fair Labor Association to inspect the facilities in China where their electronics are produced. 

Recent public and media attention, has forced Apple to divulge information about its suppliers. Now, the Fair Labor Association will look at the safety and working conditions of Apple’s suppliers and will publish its findings.   

According to David Barboza, Shanghai business correspondent for The New York Times, Apple’s suppliers faces a long list of workplace violations.

“Often we found workers who were working 90, 100, or more hours a week, not just violating Apple’s code of conduct, but the law. Then there are the safety hazards. We documented the case of this explosion that killed 4 workers and injured about 20 others at a factory in Chengdu,” Barboza said.

According to The New York Times, “auditors have found instances of excessive overtime, underage workers, improperly disposed hazardous waste and falsified records… Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to cleaniPhonescreens.”

Barboza said Apple’s decision to invite in outside auditors is in direct response to the recent media coverage.

“There are violations in the factories that supply Apple and Apple wants to get on top of that before too long,” Barboza said. “They’ve been under some pressure to show that they’re doing something about their factories in China.”

Barboza said workplace violations that have been uncovered at facilities operated for Apple are not unique. Many American companies are currently being accused of supporting unsafe working conditions at facilities that make their products.

In an interview with The New York Times, Sasha Lezhev of the Enough Project, a social justice group, said Apple’s decision has far-ranging consequences. Because Apple has such a strong pull on market forces, they have the ability to change the way American companies do business in China.

 “The problem with the F.L.A. is that it lives by rules set up by the companies itself…Real transparency will transform the electronics industry. But if it’s just a whitewash, I’m not sure how much will change,” Lezhev said.

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