Longtime Apple critic gives credit where credit is due

Tim Culpan was turned by Apple's 2019 Supplier Responsibility Report.

From Bloomberg's Apple Deserves Kudos for Doing Right by Workers:

I've been quite harsh toward Apple Inc. for a long time. Having covered the company for close to 15 years, first as a reporter and now a columnist, I’ve spent much time researching and writing about its supply chain and the myriad problems within.

Today, though, it’s time to give credit where it’s due.

Two of my major beefs with Apple relate to the issues of bonded and underage labor. In the first instance, employees working for the iPhone maker’s suppliers are required to pay upfront fees just to secure a job. This money is usually paid to recruitment agencies. The second is self-explanatory.

Both problems have almost been stamped out. According to the company’s annual Supplier Responsibility Report, just two cases of bonded labor were found last year, involving 287 employees. That’s too many, to be sure, but it’s incredible progress compared with two years ago, when 10 violations were uncovered. By employee numbers, it’s an 82 percent improvement from last year alone.

As for underage labor, just one case was uncovered, versus three a year prior. While even one is too many, cases of juveniles slipping into supplier factories are often a result of employees themselves faking documentation.

My take: This doesn't happen often enough.

CAVEAT: Found at the bottom of the page...

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.


  1. James Dearborn said:
    Reporters and Columnists such as this would highlight the most egregious manufactures if doing the most good for the abused was their altruistic goal. No, let’s pick on the Apple and get more coverage. . . making more money is their goal.

    March 7, 2019
  2. David Drinkwater said:
    Is there “reference data” to go along with Culpan’s observations?

    Foxconn employs 100,000s of workers. (multiples of 100,000)

    a) surely other companies in China also employ 100,000s of workers: how to they rate?
    b) surely other companies than Apple employ Foxconn to make products: how do they rate?
    c) 287 bonded employees may be a large number, but other companies may employ more, per capita
    d) 287 bonded employees may not work for Apple Product/assembly lines

    Under-aged workers may not be all that different than under-aged kids trying to get into bars: they want in, even though the law does not permit it – they’ll find a way in. Who’s to blame for that.

    Numbers without context are meaningless. And also, people aren’t numbers. There is surely a story behind each individual in that 287.

    Sometimes a back-handed compliment is just a back-handed compliment.

    I think Apple is doing a fine job trying to Do the Right Thing. Even that won’t always work.

    March 8, 2019

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