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Apple Enforces "Supplier Code of Conduct" After Child Labor Discovery 249

Posted by Soulskill
from the thou-shalt-not-employ-children-or-copy-music-from-your-ipod dept.
reporter writes "Since 2006, Apple has regularly audited its manufacturing partners to ensure that they conform to Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct (ASCC), which essentially codifies Western ethical standards with regard to the environment, labor, business conduct, etc. Core violations of ASCC 'include abuse, underage employment, involuntary labor, falsification of audit materials, threats to worker safety, intimidation or retaliation against workers in the audit and serious threats to the environment. Apple said it requires facilities it has found to have a core violation to address the situation immediately and institute a system that insures compliance. Additionally, the facility is placed on probation and later re-audited.' Apple checks 102 facilities, most of which are located in Asia, and these facilities employ 133,000 workers. The most recent audit of Apple's partners revealed 17 violations of ASCC. The violations include hiring workers who were as young as 15 years of age, incorrectly disposing of hazardous waste, and falsifying records. In Apple's recently released Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report (PDF), they condemned the violations and threatened to terminate their business with facilities that did not change their ways."
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Apple Enforces "Supplier Code of Conduct" After Child Labor Discovery

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  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:23AM (#31305420)

    The kids get free black turtlenecks to wear after 10 years of employment. Sounds good to me.

  • It's amazing that the mainstream public can be this economically retarded, but it isn't very surprising given that their education is controlled by the government - the very entity that benefits from these sorts of regulations.

    Individuals, including children, choose to work in "sweatshops" because that is better than other alternatives available to them: backbreaking subsistence agriculture, crime, prostitution, etc. Simply outlawing free market in labor will not make schools, hospitals, and personal wealt

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      In fact, wealth does "rain from the sky" in the form of humanitarian aid.

      Of course, undercutting the local farmer put him out of business too, but he can get his free rice from the nice NGO people like everyone else.

    • by sethstorm (512897) * on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:36AM (#31305526) Homepage

      The problem is that the countries that still have it as a problem also have a government-business relationship that is "too friendly". Those factories could willfully ignore law and kill their critics.

      Just because it may be their only practical choice does not invalidate that it is a bad one. Rewarding those businesses for pursuing that government policy is not going to make it any better.

    • by polar red (215081) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:37AM (#31305540)

      Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks

      Examples ?

      • Look at Korea (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mangu (126918)

        Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks

        Examples ?

        South Korea is a notable example of this, because it's right next to North Korea, which shares the same culture and history, up to 1950. Then the country was split in two and each half adopted a different economic orientation. Look at the results today.

        • by sethstorm (512897) *

          The chaebols/jaebols aren't much better in that regard. The underlying problem still exists, except that they have an actual choice in the matter.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by korean.ian (1264578)

          Except South Korea doesn't have a history of using child labor. What they did do is work extremely hard to build a strong export-led industry combined with high import duties that ensured domestic production would remain high. Oh and most of those industries were given state funding (as the banks were all nationalized), and were not grown in a laissez faire free market economy.
          Prior to Japanese colonization, Korea would have used children to help in the farms (much like on American farms), but not in facto

        • by Weedhopper (168515) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @04:22PM (#31308474)

          What about Korea?

          South Korea has historically retarded the entry of younger peoples into the workforce via an emphasis on compulsory education.

          If anything, South Korea is would be one of the better examples for why widespread child labor is not a necessary stage for rapid industrial development. In 1955, South Korea had a per capita GDP lower than that of most African nations. 55 years later, it is among the largest economies in the world and one that is knowledge based, at that.

          All without a significant child labor as a path out of poverty phase.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mobby_6kl (668092)

        Hong Kong. Taiwan. Most of what we now consider to be the first world.

        It sucks that children have to work, but that's not the worst option in underdeveloped countries. My grandfather had to start working at around 13, and that was in the worker's paradise that was the Soviet Union.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        The USA? My grandfather cut sugar cane 14 hours a day, 6 days a week for 25 cents.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nadaka (224565)

          Addendum: of course, we had to outlaw child labor, and do dirty socialist public education and infrastructure projects to get here. ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ooshna (1654125)
          And he had to walk uphill to and from school with no shoes in winter too.
    • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#31305750) Homepage

      There is something lacking in that train of thought. I think what is lacking is foresight and long-term thinking.

      We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay. So what are the alternatives? Of course -- have more children who can them in turn, earn money. The problem with this? The children, and by extension, the workforce becomes very uneducated... even more than in places where the government controls education. Spending one's learning years at work means bad things for the future of a workforce and for a community. The whole point of child labor laws is to allow children to become educated and to decide for themselves what they will do with their lives when they are old enough.

      Without this regulation against the free market, the market would drive its labor force to death and into animal-like stupidity.

      Further, as you seem to believe in the free market, let's look at it another way -- by pulling workers out of the labor pool, we are making the labor resource more scarce making the resource more valuable and therefore raising the rates of pay for those who remain at work. So child labor laws might also serve to improve the amount of money that comes into individual families.

      The very idea of nations "growing up" more quickly using the broken backs of 10 year olds is simply too repugnant to discuss. Even if this were viewed as a grand sacrifice, we know that only very few would benefit from this growth while the masses would remain in suffering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rubycodez (864176)

        this isn't "child labor", it's teenage labor. if a 15 year old can earn some money, let him. in our culture we have 15 year old babies that can't do a thing for themselves, high school is doing nothing for them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus (253617)

          No one is arguing against a teenager getting a part time job in suburban U.S.A. What is being argued is what is wrong with child labor as in "this is what you will do for the rest of your life because you won't be able to go to school because this will stunt your mental growth" kind of thing.

          • by NtroP (649992) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:39PM (#31306590)

            No one is arguing against a teenager getting a part time job in suburban U.S.A. What is being argued is what is wrong with child labor as in "this is what you will do for the rest of your life because you won't be able to go to school because this will stunt your mental growth" kind of thing.

            As someone who grew up in a "3rd-world country" I have news for you. Most people are finished with school by age 12. A 15-year-old is considered an adult and often is married and has at least one kid by then. We treat teen-agers like children in the US and Canada and they fulfill that expectation spectacularly - in fact, you aren't a "real" adult until 21 and then insurance companies rape you and you can't rent a car, etc., until you are 25. We put up with and even encourage infantile behavior by our teens and young-adults. And then we impose our beliefs on the rest of the world.

            If Apple wants to make it's world-wide policy match our expectations, fine. They talk about these companies hiring workers "as young as 15". Well, that 15-year-old, who very possibly is married with a family and obviously wanted the job (I didn't hear that they were rounding up workers at gun-point) and obviously capable of doing the job (what job was that? Taking out the garbage? Putting the manual and CD in it's sleeve?) otherwise they wouldn't have been hired.

            I would applaud Apple for standing up for what they believe in, but I fear that it's more to appease the ignorant, myopic American public and their America-centric world-view than any real conviction on the subject. And I feel bad for the young adults who were fortunate to land an excellent, high-paying job (for that part of the world) who will now be unemployed.

            • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
              I know you grew up in a "3rd-world country" but did you bother learning enough American history before commenting on our world view to know we had child labor in this country and abolished it because it was a horrible thing?
            • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:52PM (#31308232) Homepage

              I have news for you. It's not that long ago that our countries had much the same system. Our ancestors fought long and hard to allow children to be educated rather than forced into working in factories to support their familes. The huge advances in our way of life in the last 150 years show that it was worth doing. Let's hope the leaders of your former country can be persuaded of that too.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rubycodez (864176)

            *shrug* my wife is from Cambodia, she had 8 hour job at 14 selling cigarettes, umbrellas and fruit juice in restaurants. Eighth grade education normal for fortunate women there. For that matter, even my grandfather in USA had eighth grade education and went to work after that, normal at the time in part of country where he lived. How about we quit ramming our stupid culture down every other culture's throat?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by korean.ian (1264578)

              This is not about "culture" but about the rights of mankind. It's not that they have to go to school, it's that they have a choice. How about you ask your wife if she would have preferred the chance at education over working at crappy jobs?
              We have the advantage in the "developed" world of not forcing our kids to work 12 hours a day in manual labour positions. We arrived at this advantage in part through exploitation of workers in other countries. Do you not think we have a moral obligation to try and correc

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by rubycodez (864176)

                anwer is she was so happy as teen to be making more money than her mother who sold groceries at street market. she had plenty of food to eat for the first time in her life and good clothes and could go to dentist. For more than eight years prior, hungry, bad clothes, sore teeth and other problems. "job better than school", she says.

        • by v1 (525388) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:30PM (#31306508) Homepage Journal

          If my 15 yr old wants some spending cash you bet they can get their butt out on a paper route or babysitting or neighborhood yard work. I have no problem with "child labor" as a concept, it's a great idea on multiple fronts, teaching responsibility, the value of money, the benefits of being employed, etc.

          The problem is it's so incredibly easy for big business to abuse, that it has to be outlawed for the most part. The idea is good, the practice is bad. Things like paper routes and babysitting tend to be self-limiting (due to the narrow window of time per day you can actually do them) so they're not really abusable. Manufacturing plants that can run 24/7 naturally are where the problems crop up.

      • "We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay. So what are the alternatives?"

        Or because dad's dead and mom's debilitated. Most countries have the teenagers help out in the fields even if they don't get work in the factories. In fact, most western countries did that not so long ago. I agree with the OP above that this is less black and white than we make it out to be. A 15 year old works in a factory because it helps feed his fa
      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)

        We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay.

        Or, alternatively, because the owners aren't able to pay enough. I mean, let's imagine you have three options: don't pay enough for one person to keep an entire family fed, fire everyone and close down the factory, or go bankrupt, fire everyone, and then close down the factory.

        Which do you choose?

        by pulling workers out of the labor pool, we are making the labor resource more scarce maki

      • We know why children labor -- because the rich aren't willing to pay enough for a man to feed his family under his own pay

        No, it's because the middle class would rather pay $30 for a DVD player instead of $300.

        Using cheap labor allows you to make cheaper products which sell more. It's as simple as that.

        Without this regulation against the free market, the market would drive its labor force to death and into animal-like stupidity.

        Henry Ford did not agree. He insisted on paying enough so his workers could affo

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      Did you read the other violations?

      Core violations of ASCC 'include abuse, underage employment, involuntary labor, [...]

      Underage employment and involuntary labor often go hand in hand. I assume involuntary labor means slavery where someone earns a wage (otherwise "involuntary labor" is just a euphemism for slavery).

    • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @03:26PM (#31308020)

      It's amazing that the mainstream public can be this economically retarded

      Hmm, I'll say. But I don't think we're talking about the same group of people...

      but it isn't very surprising given that their education is controlled by the government

      Tinfoil hat time, here we go!

      the very entity that benefits from these sorts of regulations.

      The government benefits every time a child doesn't work, every time a pill doesn't kill someone, every time a student becomes a doctor or a scientist, every time a factory recalls tons of e. coli tainted beef... Well, in a sense, that's actually true, in the US, since We The People *are* the government.

      Individuals, including children, choose to work in "sweatshops"

      Bullshit. No child "choses" to work in a sweatshop. They are forced to by their parents, or by circumstances, but in no way do they think, "boy, I sure wish I could work 15 hours a day and get 2 pee breaks!"

      Simply outlawing free market in labor will not make schools, hospitals, and personal wealth rain from the sky!

      No. "Socialism" does this. The free market has never, and will never, provide schools, hospitals and personal wealth to reach the masses. A truly free market school system would leave the poor uneducated. A truly free market health system would leave the poor sick.

      As for child labor, no free market on the planet would *ever* eliminate it. The only way to eliminate child labor is to outlaw it outright. This is because if it's legal, some company is going to engage in it, and some children are going to be forced by their parents or by circumstances into it.

      Free market economies are able to go from child labor and sweatshops to banks and skyscrapers in just a couple of generations, while the "well-intentioned" socialist cesspools remain poor except for the handouts of others (often too through government force).

      No free market has ever left child labor behind. You *are* correct that free markets will lead to banks and skyscrapers, however. You are wrong that socialism leads to poor nations. What you are thinking of is communism.

      The trick is to gain the benefits of capitalism (banks, skyscrapers, etc.) while avoiding its negatives (exclusion of poor people, child labor, etc.). The way to do that is with laws (outlawing certain practices) and socialism (free education and health care) *AND* capitalism (skyscrapers and banks).

  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Random5 (826815) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:23AM (#31305428)
    Hiring 15 year olds is illegal? Quick, someone tell the authorities about McDonalds!
    • I don't know where you live, but where I grew up, 14 and 15 year olds were not hired by McDonalds.. Maybe it was just my states weird laws about not letting kids work near stoves, grills, vats of boiling oil, etc... However, I did work at one when I was 16..

      • In Penna, I worked at a McDonald's clone at age 15. 20 hours per week, max, I had to be OUT OF THE STORE before 11:00 PM, no grill work, but I did drop fries into the deep fryer. Child labor is legal here, but it's strictly regulated. Oh yeah, as I recall, I had to take some form to school to be signed.

        I eventually quit that job, because I made more money at age 14 mowing lawns. In today's world, a 14 year old kid mowing lawns would probably call some guy name "Juan" his boss.

    • by sethstorm (512897) *

      Except that reporting a safety violation at a McDonalds in the First World isn't an implied death sentence. It's more likely to have the violation corrected.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BeanThere (28381)

      Hmm, I recall I was voluntarily working from as young as 13, and in fact I've worked basically every year since then. I just wanted to, it just seemed like the natural thing to do, as I've always loved making money. Gee, it never even occurred to me that I'd stumbled into being a 'victim' of child labor. I'm glad nobody "saved" me; the money I earned helped contribute to my cost of living while studying at university.

    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by misfit815 (875442) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @12:17PM (#31306372)

      I started out at 15 making $5/hr assembling 386's. There's a problem here, but it's not strictly about the age. It's *what* you have 15yo's doing and under what conditions.

    • When I was growing up, it was not unusual for 15 year old kids to work at places, even in a warehouse (but not in a factory). But they were only able to work for a limited number of hours per week, the job had to be relatively safe and they needed permission from their school to work at a job. Generally schools were allowed to choose the criteria, such as grades or behavior to allow a student to work, while still giving a principal the ability to make exceptions for students who needed to bring money home t

  • That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

    Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

    • That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

      Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

      Apple has threatened to terminate its business relationship with these companies. If the companies fail to satisfy Apple, and Apple makes good on its threat, I'd call that a meaningful punishment.

      If Apple stop doing business with a company that won't ensure a safe working environment for its employees, will the root of the problem get fixed? No, of course not, not right away. Apple will switch to another company, and the first company will have one less (rather large) customer. But they'll be able to find other customers, perhaps who are less scrupulous, and the employees will still have unsafe working conditions.

      Or maybe, they won't be able to find other customers. Or the other customers they find, will have similar policies in place. Maybe the owners of the company will realize that if they want to continue to attract Western business, they need to make some changes - not due to respect for their employees, but because they need to pass these inspections in order to keep their customers happy.

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      That is, does one expect them to actually follow the rules? No. The ASCC is a whitewash given that it has no real ability to exact meaningful punishments.

      Those are about 133,000 jobs on the wrong side of the US and Western Europe - where they might actually respect the law for once.

      Assuming that Apple is a major client and significant source of income for these companies, then they do have real clout. Money clearly is a motivating tool for these people since that's the main benefit of child labor in the first place.

    • by sethstorm (512897) *

      Since there's no Reply All in slashcode:

      If they enforced it to the letter and did so strictly(given the various means for which it is ignored or circumvented), then it wouldn't be the exception to hear of good conditions and living critics.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:31AM (#31305472)

    In these countries, many families struggle to put food on the table. By allowing their children who are able to work go to work in the factories, these families are better able to care for each other.

    These are dangerous smelting factories or weapons manufacturing plants. They are electronics assembly lines. Lines which could essentially be replaced by robotics except that humans are cheaper. No kid is in danger of having his arm sliced off.

    Enforcing Western-style regulations in Western countries makes sense, but in poor countries, having an extra set of hands working besides mom and dad is a real boon.

    I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas. It's more White Man's Burden than Protect The Children. But really, when you think about it, those two concepts are essentially the same, and it reeks of condescension.

    • by KiahZero (610862) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:33AM (#31305496)

      From TFA:

      In the case of the underage labor, three facilities had hired 15-year-olds in countries where the minimum employment age is 16.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khchung (462899)

        And how many of those countries had a minimum employment age of at least 16 in order to avoid being accused of employing child labour by the West?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fnkmaster (89084)

        That's a violation of an employment law, but it's not an egregious child slavery operation. 15 year olds working when the minimum employment age is 16 is very different from putting 8 year olds in effective slavery in factories. I think that was the GP poster's point.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Fuck, I lived in the US and I worked picking beans at 15. And that was much harder labor than assembling electronics. (Well, I assume...)

    • Not supporting such government-business relationships is not condescending at all. In a way, it is doing them a favor by providing the right incentives to end it by cutting outside support.

      They aren't going to use robotics if those extra set of hands keeps them from political pursuits. That is, political pursuits that bring an already unstable country to a ill-timed(for them, well-timed for the US) regime collapse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xugumad (39311)

      > I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas.

      Really? Every time there's even a hint that Apple's subcontractors are hiring underage workers, or not paying them enough, or have dangerous conditions I see a dozen articles about how soul-suckingly evil Apple must be to allow this to go on (behind their back). Of course they're going to enforce the regulations...

      I'm inclined to agree though. Addressing the issue of child labor in poor countries by fir

    • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:31AM (#31306000) Homepage

      These conditions are enforced to maximise profit. When citizens of countries working under conditions like these seek redress there is an inevitable violent corporate sponsored government led retaliation against those seeking better conditions. If after extended period of revolution violence better conditions become available, corporation simply shift t the next country to exploit their population.

      Trade should not occur upon a basis of exploitation, you are importing those working conditions along with those products, don't think so, then why are corporations and their political puppets continually saying that first world workforces has to compete, not once but over and over again. Are you ready to compete, no sick pay, no holiday pay, 50 cents an hour and, unsafe work conditions as normal practice including toxic chemicals.

      It is disgusting to think anyone deems it appropriate to sponsor conditions on workers in other countries that they themselves would not accept. It reeks of greed and lies to assume that somehow poor people in other countries are born to work in poverty, they are bred to be mindless factory drones from birth, cheaper than robots.

      Yet look around you, at your fellow migrants, people who escpaed from those conditions who managed to gain a better life, according to you, they couldn't possibly exist because they are happy to be factory slaves so why would they leave.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      For countries to grow, they must each have an Industrial Revolution where they compete with the tools available. That means low wages and often child labor. The alternative is to lose, not to bypass the process and leap straight to a modern world with union benefits in a socialist utopia.

    • by tukang (1209392)

      In these countries, many families struggle to put food on the table. By allowing their children who are able to work go to work in the factories, these families are better able to care for each other.

      These are dangerous smelting factories or weapons manufacturing plants. They are electronics assembly lines. Lines which could essentially be replaced by robotics except that humans are cheaper. No kid is in danger of having his arm sliced off.

      Enforcing Western-style regulations in Western countries makes sense, but in poor countries, having an extra set of hands working besides mom and dad is a real boon.

      I can't believe I'm reading about Apple, of all companies, enforcing regulations like these overseas. It's more White Man's Burden than Protect The Children. But really, when you think about it, those two concepts are essentially the same, and it reeks of condescension.

      American child labor laws were passed in the 30s, a time when the US economy more closely resembled that of today's developing countries. I think that children are especially vulnerable in places where poverty is prevalent because parents are more likely to neglect their children and often come to the wrong conclusion that trading their children's education for a job is in the child's best interest.

      Education is the only way to break the poverty cycle and because impoverished parents may (understandibly) be

  • Different cultures have different ages where they need to become self-sufficient, or become responsible to help out with the family income. This whole 18 or 21 year old "western" ideal of adulthood is destructive to our own development in many ways, and should not be forced onto other countries with drastically different ways that the people grow up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BryanL (93656)

      Your tirade would carry more weight if the country in question did not set a minimum work age at 16. Basically, the company was breaking the law. Your 18-21 straw man is not applicable in this argument.

  • If they want western ethics then get suppliers in countries that have laws and in general follow those rules.
    Unless they are incompetent, they expect them to break Apples rules and are OK with this since they will also supply them with cheap labor.
  • underage employment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:46AM (#31305618) Homepage
    Whenever I hear underage employment I always wonder is it really all that bad?
    In countries that practice it they have children starving on the streets, so no matter how bad the conditions are relative to how we would want the conditions to be I am sure the children would rather work for cents a day then to starve to death on the streets.
    Now I am sure in many cases it is doing the children a favor to stop underage employment, but I always wonder how many children have starved to death because of Western ethics.
  • ...a bad choice is not made any better if you have no alternatives.

    The age wouldn't be an issue if critics didn't end up dying, and those who worked there didn't resemble the output end of a meat grinder. That's not condescending at all to ask that critics be allowed to live, and those whom work there have some actual choice in the matter.

  • These are my workers. They should be on my train. They're skilled ipod workers. They're essential. Essential girls. Their fingers polish the insides of ipod metal casings. How else am I to polish the inside of a 8GB ipod casing? You tell me. You tell me!
    • by sethstorm (512897) *

      (yes, I know the sarcasm)

      Robots.

      They'll shine them faster, better, and you don't have to kill them(since they really don't complain). They'll pay for themselves in a short time.

      Save your guns for the critics outside.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#31305752) Journal

    "In general," Apple said in the report, "annual audits of final assembly manufacturers show continued performance improvements and better working conditions."

    Or translated into English, "it used to be we didn't care, but now we have announced once a year inspections, we find that each time they get better at hiding violations from us".

    I wonder what the Toyota scandal will do with all of this however. They are paying the price for random outsourcing to safe some bucks and it is costing them a fortune and decades of good will as the most reliable cheap car maker are shot to hell. (And yes I am aware that the problems occurred in the US, but that is a low wage country compared to Japan.)

    When you outsource everything, what is left of your company? And once you put in place all those checks to make sure people half way across the world are working as you want them, how much have you actually saved?

    • by sethstorm (512897) *

      Your core business. At least that's what's purported to be the case. The reality is that you've dumped the accountability in the process.

      I'm betting that you're also aware of Toyota Tsusho, and their Myanmar / China operations - as well as the Chinese immigrants that make those Japanese cars(in Japan, of all places).

  • In its annual supplier report, Apple has admitted that its Chinese factories have employed children to build its gadgets. "Ones with a particularly refined sense of aesthetics [newstechnica.com]."

    Apple revealed the sweatshop conditions inside the factories it uses. The child workers were found in a facility with high vaulted ceilings, elegantly crafted marble work benches and a classical quartet playing in the background in a corner of the floor. Young geniuses sat in their Aerons and levitated components into place with the powers of the mind, burning the famed Apple logo into the back of the assembled device with but a glance of terrifying but controlled power. Some lunches, with only an hour's break, would involve wines of less than ten years' vintage.

    Competitors were outraged. "We are shocked, shocked to hear of Apple's ruthless exploitation of the chilll-drennn," said Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. "But then, what do you expect when they actually ask their suppliers about this stuff. Don't ask, don't tell! That's what made the 360 great!"

    Apple's Chinese manufacturing facilities were the site of controversy last year when one young worker at Foxconn, who had teleported an iPhone home overnight, was found to have committed suicide by leaping from the top of the building, first breaking his own neck, and tearing out all his own fingernails on the way down. He was found with Apple logos carved into his back, obviously also self-inflicted. "A tragedy," said the report.

  • by sackvillian (1476885) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:34AM (#31306028)

    I love cracking jokes about children being forced to make our crap and defending sweatshop labour as much as the next guy, but some of the comments on this story have my stomach turning. If the choice is between having families out of work and having them work for little money, then fine; run the factories. But that is a very selective framing of this issue and is utterly uninformative. The developed world (not "the West", which is a meaningless term) and our corporations interact with the third world in an extremely complex way which the above scenario completely oversimplifies.

    Between extremes of us taking advantage of cheap labour, and us setting the scene for that cheap labour to exist, we are far closer to the latter option. See the progress of the IMF and the World Bank for examples.

    I know the rebuttal: Well, how would you feel about paying 10x as much for your electronics !11!!1 But even if costs would escalate that high - and they wouldn't because employing our own workers instead would have loads of offsetting, positive effects for our economies and increasing salaries for impoverished workers by a factor of 10 only increases total costs by a portion of that - I'm more comfortable with that than saying that some people's lives are essentially worthless because of where they're born. And I suspect that if consumers were forced to really consider how their dollars 'supported' poor economies, maybe if all stores had to show in-store videos of their factories chugging along, then paying a little more for a higher quality product and higher quality lives wouldn't seem so bad.

  • Do any of the other manufacturers of consumer electronics do this kind of audit?
  • "they condemned the violations and threatened to terminate their business with facilities that did not change their ways.

    In other words, no change at all. Just enough press coverage and feigned outrage to cover themselves and shift the blame if required to do so at a later date. But nobody got fired. Nor did any contract get canceled.

  • I am shocked, (shocked!) to discover capitalists exploiting people for their own profits! Shocked I tell you!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duradin (1261418)

      In Rand Land profit is the Prophet and the Prophet says greed is the only good.

  • Catcalls:
    Um, if you outsource your business to the 3rd world you know from the start your workers will not be treated like kings.

    Kudos:
    Apple HAS *some* standards and DID something about it. You can't say that about too many businesses, especially IT businesses, these days.

  • by deblau (68023)
    Apple "condemned" and "threatened". Big deal. Wake me up when they actually fire someone.
  • Almost everything you eat, wear or buy comes from overseas, where child labor, or slave labor conditions exist.

    Slavery has never been eliminated, only renamed and exported where we wouldn't have to look at it, or more importantly, pay for it.

    Apple suddenly realizing this is like suddenly noticing that the sky is blue. All the rest is PR kaka.

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