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Your iPod Was Probably Made by an Overworked, Underpaid Teenager, But You Probably Don't Care

(CBS)
(AP)
NEW YORK (CBS) Depending on how you see it, Apple Computer is either yet another American corporation willing to hire young teens for work brutal hours at slave wages to build fancy products like iPods, iPads, and iPhones, or they are moral enough to try and stop those very practices and brave enough to publish the results on the web.

Photo: Apple's 1984 commercial branded the company as fighting the man.

The facts, as Apple's own "Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report" state, are humbling.

"Apple discovered three facilities had previously hired 15-year-old workers in countries where the minimum age for employment is 16," the report reads. By the time Apple showed up, the 11 workers in question had turned the legal age.

Photo: Steve Jobs hawking the iPad on Jan. 27, 2010 in San Francisco.

Apple also admitted that at 60 facilities workers were often pushed to work more than 60 hours a week and at 65 facilities more than half the workers had been pushed to work seven days a week at least once a month. The rest of the time they worked a leisurely six days per week.

And many workers actually paid for the privilege. Apple says they forced suppliers to return $2.2 million in "recruitment fees" that workers were charged for access to jobs.

Suppliers got away with much of this bad behavior, the report says, with a very low tech trick - they lied, in essence falsifying workers time sheets.

They also found 24 factories were stiffing workers out of the minimum wage, but declined to say how little the workers were supposed to make.

And the list goes on: 45 facilities were docking workers' pay as punishment, 57 facilities were jacking them on sick days and maternity leave, 48 facilities cheated workers out of overtime, 52 facilities screened out job applicants for having hepatitis B, 20 screened for pregnancy.

In the report, Apple says they have taken action by forcing factories to return unpaid wages and medical benefits to workers, create compliance programs to prevent all this bad stuff from happening again and training, training, training.

As for the three companies that lied to Apple, the company says they have given them the boot.

Apple has suppliers in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. A full tilt iPod sells for $399.
  • Neil Katz

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