In an earlier post, I suggested that Apple might consider reshoring the production of iPads to this country. Apple has not yet acceded to my demands on that issue, but they are doing what they can. Over the last few years, Apple has been encouraging its suppliers to improve working conditions for the people who make Apple products, particularly in the area of number of hours worked each week. Well, Apple last week released its Apple Supplier Responsibility 2011 Progress Report and all I can say is Chinese workers can’t get enough of making Apple iPhones, iPads and iWhatevers. According to the Progress Report, Apple’s Code sets a maximum of 60 work hours per week and requires at least one day of rest per seven days of work, while allowing exceptions in unusual or emergency circumstances. Out of 127 suppliers that they audited in 2010, 76 facilities had records that indicated workers had exceeded the 60 hour 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. Boy, it just tires me out to read about working that much!
Apple has been encouraging its suppliers to improve conditions at their facilities after numerous complaints about working conditions at the firms that make and assemble components for Apple. The most extreme example occurred at one of Apple’s suppliers Foxconn. In 2010, several Foxconn workers committed suicide by jumping from the company building. After that incident, Apple commissioned an independent review of the incidents by a team of suicide prevention experts. This team conducted an in depth investigation into the suicides, evaluated Foxconn’s response, and recommended strategies for supporting workers’ mental health in the future. According to the 2010 Progress Report, “the independent team presented its findings and recommendations to Terry Gou and senior executives from Foxconn and Apple. The team commended Foxconn for taking quick action on several fronts simultaneously, including hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center, and even attaching large nets to the factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides.” The 2010 Progress Report went on to say that Foxconn, “is implementing an employee assistance program (EAP) that focuses on maintaining employee mental health and expanding social support networks.” Apparently, some workers at Foxconn did not get the memo about the employee assistance program. Boy, you just can’t please some people, no matter what you do!