Factories that build Apple products have changed their recruitment practises so that employees don’t have to pay to join the assembly line anymore, Bloomberg reports.
Factories in countries such as China often require workers to pay recruitment expenses, leaving them in debt before they have even begun working for the company.
Apple’s new rules prevent such practises and requires factories to pay any recruitment the fees themselves.
Apple’s SVP of operations, Jeff Williams, announced the move on Wednesday as part of the company’s annual “supplier responsibility” report, Bloomberg notes. The decision was made in October. In it, Williams talks about improving the working conditions at factories that make devices such as the iPhone.
Apple is ultimately banning “bonded servitude.” When workers are charged excessive fees to join an assembly line, Williams says that “it is in essence bonded servitude,” according to Bloomberg. The practice means employees begin work in debt to their employer, and some have their passports confiscated which they cannot get back until they have paid the company off.
The crucial change is that the US tech giant now prohibits any worker on an assembly line producing its devices from being charged fees for working there. Before, Apple only prevented “excessive fees” from being implemented. Apple said previously that any fee worth more than a month’s pay was considered to be too much for staff to cough up.
“That fee needs to be paid by the supplier and Apple ultimately bears that fee when we pay the supplier and we’re OK doing that,” Williams told Bloomberg. “We just don’t want the worker to absorb that.”
Conflict minerals are also discussed in the Apple report. In December, a BBC Panorama show broadcast a brutal documentary portraying Apple workers digging for tin ore in horrible conditions.
CEO Tim Cook was quick to respond to the claims of mistreatment made in the programme. He said he was “deeply offended” at the allegations that Apple’s factories were harsh places to work. “We care deeply about every worker in Apple’s global supply chain,” Cook said.
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