The Apple Supplier Responsiblity Report is an interesting read [pdf] (here’s a summary). It’s a report of Apple’s efforts to audit its supply chain to find instances of child labor, unsafe working conditions and employment discrimination. It also details Apple’s effort to reduce suicides at one of its major suppliers, Foxconn.
It’s great that Apple is making this effort, and disclosing its findings. But it’s also clear that working conditions in non-unionized, foreign plants are sometimes terrible, even with a corporation like Apple supervising factories:
76 facilities had records that indicated workers had exceeded weekly working-hour limits more than 50 percent of the time. At 74 facilities, more than half of the records we reviewed indicated that workers had worked more than six consecutive days at least once per month.
Apple’s 2010 audits revealed 91 cases of underage labor, 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 our audit.
54 facilities had workers who were not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as earplugs, safety glasses, and dust masks. In some instances, the facility had not provided the appropriate safety equipment. In others, the workers neglected to use the equipment or were using it improperly
I wonder how much worse things are for workers in non-supervised plants.