While Apple shares are growing over $600 apiece and the company’s new iPad is enjoying thriving sales, the black spot of underpaid excessive overseas labor stains the company. It’s not only Apple - all tech companies rely a lot on underpaid manual labor, with workers in China and other Asian countries often forced to work long shifts for days on end.
And while the recent factual fiasco over Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”
blurred how real the issue is, it - along with the following investigative reporting by various publications like the NY Times - has helped Apple improve its code of conduct, apply it more vigorously and let the public see the results.
The latest effort on Apple’s side is the introduction of monthly reporting for excessive work hours. This will allow the company to efficiently track the work process at its suppliers’ factories and force in some needed improvement. The new section has just been added to Apple’s Supplier Responsibility section.
The best thing is that we’re seeing this progress even in Apple’s busiest months around the third-gen iPad launch. In February 2012, there was a 5% sequential decrease in over 60-hour workweeks and the average workweek stood at 48 hours. Here’s Apple’s official statement detailing how Apple deals with the issue:
In our effort to end the industry practice of excessive overtime, we're working closely with our suppliers to manage employee working hours. Weekly data collected in January 2012 on more than 500,000 workers employed by our suppliers showed 84 percent compliance with the 60-hour work week specified in our code. In February 2012, compliance with the 60-hour work week among 500,000 workers at those suppliers increased to 89 percent, with workers averaging 48 hours per week. That's a substantial improvement over previous results, but we can do better. We will continue to share our progress by reporting this data on a monthly basis.
It seems that Apple is on the right track and we’re glad to see the company takes the excess work hour issue seriously. We’ll keep you in the know about the progress as it gets posted on Apple’s website monthly.