Each year, Apple releases a report called the Supplier Responsibility Progress Report detailing its audits of the labor practices of its suppliers around the world. The company said it uncovered 38 cases of falsification of working hours data in 2017, up from nine cases the year before. "We're going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers".
The firm is also launching a women's health initiative at its supplier plants, with a target in place to reach 1m women by 2020. While it's seen a fair amount of criticism in the past, Apple is no longer one of them.
It also has a Zero Waste Program, and in the two years since it launched, all of Apple's Chinese and Indian final assembly locations have achieved Zero Waste certifications, and its newest facility will get certification this year.
Apple's regular audit of its supply chain has found a higher number of serious labour and environmental violations, but overall things have improved for its supplier workforce. In one example, a supplier charged 700 workers in the Philippines a total of one million USA dollars in recruitment fees for securing their jobs there.
"We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that nearly 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years".
The Silicon Valley company asked three suppliers that were using debt-bonded labor to reimburse more than $1.9 million to 1,550 workers who were pressured to pay the supplier a recruitment fee to work in the factory.
"A new preventive health care curriculum is encouraging women to focus on their personal health, and hopefully share that knowledge with their families and communities".
COO Jeff Williams states, "We're committed to raising the bar every year across our supply chain".
Additionally, Apple worked with some of its large suppliers and Beijing Normal University on a new program to address challenges recruiting qualified factory line leaders.
100pc of identified smelters and refiners in the company supply chain were happy to participate in a third-party conflict mineral audit, the company's third annual examination of the issue.
The quantity of "low performers" dropped to 1% - a notable improvement compared to the 3% recorded in 2016, and 14% in 2014.
"We believe that everyone making Apple products deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we're proud that nearly 15 million people understand their workplace rights as a result of the work we've done over the years", said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer (COO). "High performers" also increased by 12 percent, up from 47 percent the year prior.
The issue of conflict minerals in Apple devices was dealt with in a separate report, a requirement of the USA securities regulators. The report lists suppliers of sensitive metals such as tin and gold. In recent years, it has conducted an annual supplier audit to make sure worker conditions are up to par.
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