Apple has fired one of its Chinese suppliers after an audit discovered that the factory had employed 74 underage workers. The smartphones maker denounced the factory to the local authorities, according to the information provided in Apple’s Supplier Responsibility report.
Apple has subjected its third-party suppliers to a thorough investigation after rumors started last year that Chinese factories may be using underage employees to manufacture smartphones and tablets. No irregularities have been discovered until this week when an audit revealed that the supplier named Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics had conspired with various families in China to hire 14-year-old children in their factories.
The audit discovered that 74 workers were not old enough to be able to work in the factory. The supplier and the members of the families falsified the children’s documents in order to escape inspections. The labor agency was reported to local authorities, whom, in turn, suspended their license and imposed them a fine.
Apple offered a detailed description of the discovery they have made in their Supplier Responsibility report. The smartphone manufacturer hopes this measure will determine suppliers to improve the working conditions in their facilities. Similar efforts will be made in the future because Apple doesn’t want its brand or its products to be associated with underage labor. Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, declared in a recent interview that the subject of underage labor doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. As a result, Apple could perform many more investigations to verify the working conditions practiced by its suppliers in factories.
393 audits were conducted in various supply chains last year, which means Apple increased the number of its inspections by 72 percent compared to the ones registered a year before. The main aspects that were verified during the audits were environmental and operations safety, business practices, and employee recruitment.
The episode that caused Apple to be more cautious in relation to its suppliers took place several months ago when Apple’s supplier Foxconn admitted that they had hired workers who were younger than 16 years old (China’s legal working age). Foxconn was criticized for its working conditions during last year’s audits, but this year, the Chinese supplier observed all the regulations.