Apple is tracking working hours for one million of its supply chain employees

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It seems that the news we always hear out of supply chains is negative — the most recent being underage workers and in the past even suicides. For a good change, I’m happy to report on good news regarding an electronics manufacturer’s supply chain.

Apple has updated its Supplier Responsibility page and notes that it is now tracking working hours for over million supply chain employees. The reason this is significant is because Apple has been trying to impose a 60-hour work week standard, which could go a long way in preventing over exhaustion and hopefully improve overall employee health. For peak periods like the ramp up to a new product launch, Apple allows employees to work beyond the 60 hour limit if they volunteer to do so.

The company also notes that since company began this particular initiative to track working hours early this year, it has more than doubled its coverage. Another encouraging little thing that can be found on the page is this little line, “There’s still work to be done, but we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made thus far.”

Love or hate Apple, this is a great thing they’re doing. But I have to agree with them, there’s definitely still work to be done.

[via MacRumors]

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13 comments

  1. AT

    If my remember correctly, Apple employees under Jobbs were expected to work 90hr/week or more. They even had t-shirts that said so. All the while being screamed at by Jobbs saying they were not productive enough

  2. Craig

    I’m self employed and been that way since 1978. My normal work week is easily over 60 hours and I love it. I love my job and don’t mind the hours. And I do know when it’s time to take time off. It’s just a matter of whether or not you like what you are doing.

  3. Fellow Citizens of the World

    @JMJ:

    “Sixty hours per week is not too many for THESE workers to work at THIS time in THEIR country(ies)’ history…Until very recently (last 70 years or so), most people worked 60+ hours per week”.

    No, it’s a goofy myth. In the U.S, only in 1900 or 112 years ago the average work week was 59.6 hours per week (http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/whaples.work.hours.us). We are not talking about the military or militarized zones. The workweek in Most of the industrialized world dropped steadily to about 40 hours after World War II. The decline continued at a faster pace in Europe: for example, France adopted a 35-hour workweek in 2000. In 1995, China adopted a 40-hour week. The front runners for lowest average weekly work hours are the Netherlands with 27 hours. Today the average hours worked in the U.S is around 37 (http://www.bsu.edu/ibb/us/emp/emp2.htm),

    “This great, ancient, industrious (Chinese) People will be just fine”, yep, especially now when we owe them about 3 trillion dollars. In other words, to pay off all of the accumulated debt, right now, each American, including our babies, would have to cough up almost $52K per person.

  4. JMJ

    @JonE: I especially like dotTech, and the Internet in general, because it gives me the opportunity to interact with my fellow Citizens of the World. However, as a fellow American, let me be nationalistic long enough to say, *Thank You* for your risking all to protect my right to rant, rave… and vote! I truly appreciate it.

    One of the things my being fortunate enough to travel-and-learn has taught me is not to view others through the narrow lens of my own experience. You and I are incredibly lucky [sic] to have been born in a place where, for the vast majority, eating every day is not unusual. Where being able to work and save to own a house is considered normal. Where being able to see a doctor (or ANY medical care-giver) is considered an entitlement. Where 40% of our babies are not lost before their fifth birthdays. And, on and on.

    Sixty hours per week is not too many for THESE workers to work at THIS time in THEIR country(ies)’ history. They are at least as smart as I am and choose to work as they do. Perhaps, like you and I did, JonE, they are sacrificing and working toward THEIR individual goals which, eventually, will make them, their communities and their country more secure and contented and economically successful.

    Once your belly is full and you’ve made sure the next meal is reasonably forthcoming, then you can relax a bit, draw, make music, read for leisure, paint… and post stuff on the Internet. If history is prologue, these workers will soon begin to assert their “inalienable rights” and demand better work hours, conditions, benefits, etc.

    We are right to militate for our Chinese fellow World Citizens but let’s not become paternalistic in “deciding” what is best for them. In all forms-and-fashions, “Nation-building” sucks. This great, ancient, industrious People will be just fine.

    @Ashraf and @jayesstee- Until very recently (last 70 years or so), most people worked 60+ hours per week. Most self-employed and highly compensated people still do. If you add commute times, I bet almost every 40-hour worker still does. I’ll take your bet, jayesstee. They’ll get *there* from here.

  5. JonE

    There were times, as a younger man, that I worked 84 hours a week, when I worked for the Federal government, in a military capacity. When we were in the Middle East it was not uncommon to work even more than that. And we weren’t being paid all that much either. No, no, not beating on my chest here, but we weren’t committing suicide and had very few health problems. These were the most committed men and women I ever worked with in my life.

    It would be interesting to know how many hours a normal work week consists of in these sweat shops? Sixty (60) hours seems excessive to us, but I’m wondering if this isn’t closer to a normal work week for them? While sixty hours seems excessive to us I’m betting it’s just normal to them. And what about overtime? Doubt they get any of that. Healthcare and many of the other things we take for granted? Doubt it. So, I’m guessing in many cases the long hours they work are voluntary seeing as how they earn so much. And what’s the youngest person you’ve ever worked with? I’m betting you’ve never worked with a twelve year old, as a co-worker.

    And do I really believe that Apple has taken these steps to audit their supply chain and cap worker hours because they care about these people? Maybe, but I seriously doubt it. And so I’m not really impressed.

    And I’ve stated before that I have no need for a mobile device and so will probably never seriously consider buying one. Be that as it may; I will certainly not seriously consider buying a mobile device unless I’m certain that it and the contents have been manufactured by American labor. Oh yeah, that will be an expensive device won’t it? So the next time you run out and buy something that says anything other than, “Made in the U.S.A.” consider where it was made, how it was made, and the government that ultimately benefits financially.

  6. jayesstee

    Since they can “volunteer” to do more, is this cap worth anything?
    When I was saving for a house so that I could get married (to MY “most beautiful girl in the world”), I sometimes worked 60 hours in addition to 12 hours studying + 10 to 12 hours traveling each week.
    It was ‘difficult’ but I knew that would end eventually, Those poor workers don’t have that hope.

  7. JMJ

    I love to hate Apple, perhaps jealously because their income is a wee bit higher than mine. But this really addresses one of my pet peeves against them: Making a (huge) buck by abusing others. Of course, there are other than humanitarian reasons for them to monitor workers’ hours. Properly rested workers work faster, make fewer mistakes and suffer fewer injuries, all of which enhances Apple’s bottom line, albeit indirectly.

    It also polishes Apple’s (pun intended) corporate image as a responsible World citizen.

    Now, if we could just get them to pay a fair income tax.