Apple Responds and Investigates


CRN | iPod nano, Apple Computer | Apple Looks Into iPod “Sweat Shop” Charges

Apple is “looking into” charges of awful working conditions in China. The full text of Sunday's newspaper article that broke the story is now online.

From Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct:

  • Suppliers may not threaten workers with or subject them to harsh or inhumane treatment, including sexual harassment, sexual abuse, corporal punishment, mental coercion, physical coercion, or verbal abuse.
  • Except in emergency or unusual situations, a work week should be restricted to 60 hours,
    including overtime, and workers should be allowed at least one day off per seven-day week.
  • Suppliers must identify, evaluate, and control worker exposure to physically demanding tasks,including manual material handling, heavy lifting, prolonged standing, and highly repetitive or forceful assembly tasks.

Some of these items are allegedly in violation, according to the article — forcing employees to stand and then punishing them by forcing them to stand still, working 15 hours a day x 6 days per week, forcing employees to do push ups as punishment, not allowing them to have contact with outsiders, other forms of abuse.

Why is it, whether it's Nike or Kathy Lee Gifford, that policies were in place and companies turned a blind eye? See no evil? It's clear that companies not only have to publish nice sounding policies, but they should also publish regular audit reports. They need to be unscheduled audits to make sure problems aren't just hidden before the auditors arrive (this is true even with your company lean “5S audits” — they should be unscheduled surprise audits).

Let's hope Apple does the right thing. Doing the morally right thing usually goes beyond just “following the law.” I'm sure the factories in China follow the law. But Apple is in a position to demand that they do much better than what's required.

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  1. ChinaLawBlog says

    These wages are actually quite low when compared to the wages foreign companies usuallly pay in China.

  2. Mark Graban says

    Most of the debate seems to be focused on the low wages — definitely low compared to the U.S., low compared to China.

    But, the real issue to me is the poor treatment of the workers. Why isn’t anyone else focusing on that part?

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