Today Apple published its latest Apple Supplier Responsibility progress report outlining the working conditions of its suppliers. Apple increased audits by over 80 percent in 2011 to 229, revealing six active cases of underage labor, and 13 historical cases at some component suppliers. Apple's "zero tolerance policy" requires suppliers to immediately correct the issue and adjust their management practices to prevent reoccurrence. Apple terminated business with one supplier on grounds of violating its involuntary labor rules while another is correcting its practices.
Of course, much of the consumer electronics industry uses the same suppliers but Apple is one of the few companies to openly discuss the situation and conduct interviews with The Wall Street Journal.
In an effort to get a better handle on the situation, today Apple also became the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association as a participating company. As a result, Apple agrees to uphold the FLA's Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Sourcing and Workplace Code of Conduct throughout its supply chain. A list of suppliers used by the notoriously secretive company has already been published representing 97 percent of Apple's procurement expenditures. The FLA will independently assess Apple's supplier facilities and publish a detailed report of its findings.
The FLA was created in 1999 under the Clinton administration as a way of monitoring workplace conditions globally. Nike became a founding member of the association after poor working conditions at its Asian factories were publicly exposed. Apple came under similar scrutiny in 2006 amidst the "iPod City" controversy and again in 2010 following a rash of suicides at its Foxconn facilities.