In 2013, Apple discovered that one of its suppliers, Suyin Electronics, a company that made HDMI and USB ports for the company’s MacBook line, had employed underage workers. The manufacturer has vowed to clean up its act, but a follow-up investigation by Apple has revealed three other minors, including a 14-year-old, on Suyin assembly lines. Although Apple did not give Suyin a new job as a result of his findings, he continued to work with the company due to some existing contracts, and it took over three years before finally cutting the connections.
In the other example, Apple investigated Biel Crystal, a company that makes glass screens for the iPhone. After Apple found that “Biel’s environmental, health and safety culture is weak at all levels of management,” it called for more than two dozen corrective measures. However, a year after the investigation, Biel had yet to implement most of the improvements Apple ordered, and the two continued to work together in part because the removal of Biel from its supply chain would have left Apple beholden to a single supplier of glass screens. This is something the company tries to avoid at all costs as it can leverage two vendors against each other to get the best price for the components. This also allows Apple to avoid situations as it encountered when it Intel single source modems.
Moreover, in this specific case, penalizing Biel would have meant transferring orders to Lens Technology. This is the firm The Washington Post said this week is using forced Uyghur labor to make parts for Apple, Amazon and other companies.
An Apple spokesperson said Information the company has “the highest standards in the industry to ensure that workers in our supply chain are treated with dignity and respect … We closely monitor the suppliers we work with and if there are any issues, we act quickly to make sure they are dealt with and resolved or we end the relationship, which we have done on a number of occasions. “We have reached out to Apple for further comment and will update this article when we have a response from the company.
Although Apple claims to have severed ties with manufacturers several times in the past, its own reports suggest otherwise. Since the release of the first iPhone in 2007, the company has removed 22 installations from its supply chain. This is a small fraction of the more than 2,000 sites around the world that help manufacture the company’s products.