Any of you who have read parts of my series on the companies represented at my local mall will know that I like Apple products. I'm amazed with the policies on their website and am pretty happy that they don't use slave labour in the mining of their tantalum.
However, a friend of mine brought a pretty disturbing news article to my attention today, and I want to thank her for challenging my high opinions of the company. I hope to keep an open mind about the companies I write about on this blog, as I know often policies don't equal reality. There are tons of stages to a production line, and often only a few of them can be monitored closely. Not to mention, if a company does not own it's factories, I'm sure a lot of policies slip between audits. The question that really matters is, how is this dealt with once the slip is found? Does the company admit to it and either end the relationship with the producer, or work to correct it? If they choose to provide incentives and training to help correct the situation, and their employees choose not to take the incentive, what can they do next? Many things play a part in the ethics behind a companies production line. On the multinational corporations end, they are responsible for policies, monitoring, transparency and solutions to any problems they find. On the factory managers end, they are responsible for following those policies in hiring, providing safe and healthy working conditions, and pay. But the question comes down to who is to blame if a fourteen-year-old wants to help his or her family meet their needs and provides false ID saying they are of age to be working?
I hope you all realize that I am NOT trying to defend Apple, or any other corporation that finds child labour in it's supply chain. All I am trying to do here is help you realize how complex the system is, and then provide you with evidence so that you can make your own decision on whether or not you feel comfortable shopping there. For me, this moves Apple closer to the yellow category. I think they have a lot of great policies and of course do not own their factories so cannot constantly be present, but have taken action to correct issues that have been found. However, they could be doing more, specifically in their tin mines. Below I have posted the link to Apple's policies, as well as some articles that bring up some disturbing evidence against them. Please read with an open mind, remember the complexities, weigh the evidence, and decide for yourself if Apple's doing a good enough job. Also, please take dates into account. Some of the situations written about have been responded to. Some still need a better response.
Apples policies: https://www.apple.com/ca/supplier-responsibility/
The Case against them:
July 2013: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/even-worse-than-foxconn-apple-rocked-by-child-labour-claims-8736504.html
March 2014: http://qz.com/183563/what-happens-when-apple-finds-a-child-making-your-iphone/
December 2014: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/19/371910482/apple-responds-to-bbc-on-conditions-at-asian-iphone-suppliers
I really do appreciate it if you challenge my opinions if something doesn't seem right to you! I would rather be corrected and have a better understanding of where I am shopping than be correct, so please, comment below with any concerns you have.