Apple has banned bonded labor after an audit of factory conditions. They believe that the fee should not be paid by the employer but by the supplier. Apple started the audit after facing some criticism; the low wages earned by Apple workers was questioned.
Apple’s senior vice-president of operations Jeff Williams says that Apple is fine with bearing the fee but it needs to be taken care of by the supplier.
New workers are charged a fee by third party recruiters for being introduced to the factory, the amount can be more than a month’s salary. Some third parties would even confiscate the employee’s passport and this means that the employee starts his job with a debt.
A BBC Panorama investigation last year highlighted the poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories. The poor treatment of workers has been documented many times; this was a recent example where the documentary showed a consistent breach of Apple’s work standards.
Apple was given a chance to clarify their position through an interview but they declined the offer to be interviewed for the programme and denied the allegations of long hours and poor working conditions. Apple also stated that they were offended by these false allegations.
When Apple published their audit, the China Labor Watch (CLW) released a report on the same day saying that the organization is not effective in monitoring standards in some of its areas which also includes the supply chain. The harsh working conditions, low wages and long hours are just partly to blame. Apple has shown initiative in taking interest in improving conditions for their workers.