One item that came through in Apple’s Supplier report last week was a marked increase in issues with child labor in supplier facilities, particularly in China. The report noted that Apple ” audited 127 facilities and found 91 cases including 31 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, but were no longer underage or no longer employed at the time of the audit.”
Before you get out the Apple-bashing hammer, remember that EVERYONE making devices is using these facilities – Dell, Asus, Acer, HP, even Samsung gets loads of stuff from these plants. This means it is a huge and spreading issue as Chinese companies do whatever they can to draw more and more business. Apple is doing what it can, as the report notes:
Apple has required the suppliers to return the young people to their families and support their return to school while continuing to pay them until they reach 16 years of age. Apple said it has also required the suppliers to improve their management, such as labor recruitment practices and age-verification procedures, to prevent recurrences.
It is a shame to see these practices continuing year after year … but it is more disturbing to see it getting worse as our thirst increases for the latest cool tech.