Apple Still Using Underage Workers and ‘Bonded Servitude’ In Its Chinese Plants

The strange part is that Apple has been conducting inspections of its Chinese contractors for seven straight years.

Yet here’s what the latest round revealed, according to a compliance report issued Friday by the company itself.

(Apple Compliance Report, p. 16)

(1) A total of 11 Apple-contracted facilities were found using underage labor, with 106 active, individual cases and 70 historical cases.  ‘Underage’ is loosely defined as anyone under the age of 15.

(2) Bonded labor was found being practiced at 8 different facilities.  This practice, banned in the US, describes an arrangement in which a worker is given a high-interest loan by the factory owner, and forced to work off the principal and interest at excessively low wages (closely related to indentured servitude).

(3) On that note, 8 percent of facilities were forcing workers into involuntary overtime (more than 60 hours a week, without at least one day of rest).

(4) 90 facilities were found deducting wages as a disciplinary measure.

(5) 34 facilities required female applicants to take a pregnancy test.

(6) 25 facilities conducted mandatory medical testing, including for Hepatitis B.

(7) At 88 facilities, proper protective equipment such as safety shoes, gloves, masks, goggles, and earplugs, were not provided to workers.

(8) At 53 facilities, protective equipment was provided but did not meet the safety standards.

(9) 177 facilities did not have proper emergency exits or emergency escape procedures.

(10) 74 facilities did not include night-shift workers in their emergency fire drills.

(11) 34 factories did not conduct emergency evacuation drills at all.

(12) At 20 of the facilities, fire alarms were not installed throughout the premises.

(13) 38 facilities had at least one emergency exit locked.

(14) At 102 of the facilities, night-shift workers were not paid proper overtime wages on holidays.

14 Responses

  1. Visitor

    While I actually expect (a lot) more from Apple than from other companies, I would still like to see how their competitors behave…

    • TC

      You can’t be the most profitable company in the world without breaking all the rules. The companies they are suing don’t come close to the profits they make.

    • Casey

      To many companies, Chinese are not people. They are Chinese. They are disposable. They exist only to give companies better profit margins. This is not simply Apple, but Apple being the largest technology company gets the brunt of it. Steve Jobs setup a system of treating others like garbage for personal gain. Apple is simply carrying on the tradition.

      • Visitor

        “Steve Jobs setup a system of treating others like garbage for personal gain. Apple is simply carrying on the tradition.”

        For once, I tend to agree with you.

        I use all kinds of Apple products and services for my work and simply love them, but this is bad luggage and they need to lose it. Along with their iTunes censorship, now we’re at it.

        I don’t think we should forget that we have these figures because of Apple’s own report. I’m not saying this as an excuse — there isn’t any, and acknowledging a problem doesn’t solve it — it just gives me hope that they will do the right thing.

      • Tod dem Staat

        America makes it illegal for a percentage of its inhabitants to work simply because of their age (child labor laws). America makes it illegal for workers to bid for wages that match their level of skill (minimum wage laws). America makes it illegal for foreigners to enter and work freely (immigration laws). America makes it illegal to use similar or same ideas at a given time (intellectual property laws).

        All of these things make voluntary exchange illegal, the result of which is artificially inflated costs and prices. And all of these things make outsourcing much more desirable.

        Removing minimum wage laws alone could solve the “child labor issue.”

        It’s not Apple. It’s the environment surrounding Apple.

        • mswyers

          This sounds like standard libertarian boiler plate. Unfortunately, we tried that in the 1890’s and it didn’t work. How about enforcing all of the labor and environmental laws we were told were part of NAFTA and every other globalization treaty that has come down the pike? We also need to stop outsourcing our trade agreements to groups outside of citizen’s controls like the WTO that are run by corporations.

  2. huh

    This is the whole premise of capitlism a drive to the bottom. Put the kids to work it keeps them off the street, keeps them from getting pregnant and joinging gangs. We need those cheap labor countires to keep our owners here in America fat and happy. Until people stop thinking in terms of us vs them this type of stuff will continue and spread. Keep up the reports apple and remind us just greedy we all are.

  3. Farley Grainger

    It is true, as one commenter said, that Apple bills its report as a progress report dedicated to transparency and doing better. On the other hand, the revelations reported by Paul are disturbing. See for yourself at URL

    I think Paul deserves credit for locating the report, reading it, and sharing the information. I checked and have not yet seen the information in major publications. (My guess is that they will get to it.)

  4. Reality

    I just returned from Peru where children as
    young as 4 work their tails off on the family farm. It’s the cutest thing
    to see a tiny little kid driving burros up a hill with a stick. For some
    reason, westerners romanticize the lives of peasant farmers, as if their
    “way of life” is sacred and somehow beyond reproach. Children
    suffering from starvation and ignorance as part of their “traditional
    lifestyle,” it is rationalized, must be it that state due to unfair trade practices
    and not, God forbid, because their parents are apathetic and abusive.
    I can only imagine
    the incredible good fortune felt by a peasant child who has traded a lifetime
    of drudgery and suffering in the village for a chance for education and a
    future with a western company. Western
    zealots need to remember that by heaping scorn on firms employing younger
    worker abroad, they may be shamed into curtailing the practice and thereby
    dooming thousands of lives to the backward and destructive and inescapable fate
    of their parents.

    • Western Zealot

      OK, so you think children as young as 4 years old would be lucky to work in an Apple factory. How do you feel about ibonded servitude arrangements that resemble slavery? Apparently Apple itself is aiming higher.