One of the most difficult things to square as a consumer is the knowledge that not everyone who worked to produce your clothes, your food and your electronics wouldn’t be old enough to work if they lived in the United States. There are of course oversights at factories all over the world, but even the biggest companies can’t catch everything. Thankfully, some are willing to take action when they find children in their factories.
Over the weekend, a Redditor with the handle Illegal_sal shared a link to Apple’s Labor and Human Rights page on the company’s Supplier Responsibility subsite. On that page, Apple explains what happens when it discovers that child labor laws have been violated at a factory building its devices:
“We do not tolerate underage labor in our supply chain. If we find underage workers in our suppliers’ factories, we make the suppliers return the children to their homes, pay for their education at a school of their family’s choice, and continue to provide income for basic needs until they reach the legal working age. We also enlist a third-party organization to monitor the children’s progress and report back to us. After they complete their education, suppliers must offer them reemployment. In 2015, we found three cases of underage labor — and we will continue to look for it.”
When Quartz looked into this program several years ago, it discovered that the participation rate for underage workers who were given the opportunity to participate in Apple’s free education program in 2011 was around 34%. While that is certainly a discouraging number, it’s nice to see that the pressure labor activists have put on Apple over the past several years has forced the company to take a more active approach.