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Apple Inc. required suppliers to reimburse $6.4 million in excess recruiter fees to contract workers at foreign operations in 2012. The computer maker also turned in a labor agency in China that had knowingly supplied underage workers to a factory.
Information on the company’s actions was included in its recently released annual supplier responsibility report for 2013.
The company reported workers in some foreign countries are required to pay fees to recruitment agencies and can take on a huge debt before starting work. The workers must also stay on the job until the debt is repaid.
“We consider this a form of bonded labor, and it is strictly prohibited by our supplier code of conduct,” the company said in the report. “When we find violations, suppliers must reimburse excessive recruitment fees — anything higher than the equivalent of one month’s net wages — for any eligible contract worker found working on Apple projects.”
Factories in certain countries are more likely to employ foreign contract labor and are targeted for Apples bonded labor audits, according to the report.
The company required suppliers to reimburse $6.4 million in 2012, according to the report. And suppliers have reimbursed a total of $13.1 million since 2008.
The company also targets underage labor. And the report said the company found last January a supplier — Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co. Ltd. — had 74 cases of workers under the age of 16.
Apple terminated its business relationship with the firm, according to the report. In addition, Apple discovered that a labor agency — Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources Co., Ltd. — knowingly provided the workers to the supplier. The labor agency had conspired with families to forge age verification documents to make the workers seem older than they were, according to the report.
Apple alerted the provincial governments to Quanshun and the firm received a fine and had its business license suspended, according to the report. The children were returned to families and the supplier was required to pay the expenses.
To view the full report, click here.