Apple releases 2018 Supplier Responsibility Report, highlights progress in India

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Apple's latest Supplier Responsibility progress report for 2018 released on Thursday has some interesting insights about the company's production line in India.

Apple suppliers have breached the firm's core labor rules 44 times in the previous year, according to a new audit.

Apple expanded the scope of its audit to include more of its suppliers - and with it "core violations" in labor and human rights from suppliers, which range from debt-bonded labor, working-hours falsifications and underage labor. Included in the report were three debt-bonded labor violations, two underage labor violations and 38 violations of falsifying work hours data. Collectively, workers in the Philippines gave up over $1 million in order to maintain their jobs at a contractor facility. Furthermore, 6 percent of suppliers did not abide by the 60-hour work week maximum in 2017, while in 2016 only 2 percent didn't adhere to the rules, Reuters reports. Apple said when it finds that a supplier falsified data, it notifies the chief executive of the offending supplier and puts the supplier on probation until a fix is implemented.

The way Apple handled its two underage worker violations is laudable. Both individuals used false identification to gain employment.

In the report, Apple also said it was launching a new women's' health initiative at its supplier plants, with a goal of reaching 1 million women by 2020. On its website, it says it wants to "protect the planet" by "constantly raising the bar" on its factories. "High performers" also increased by 12 percent, up from 47 percent the year prior.

Customers queue inside an Apple store in Hong Kong on September 25, 2015.

Last year Apple launched a program to help improve health awareness for women at its suppliers, so they are better prepared to take control of their health and share that knowledge back to their families and communities.

In January, Chinese watchdog China Labor Watch (CLW) issued a report criticizing the labor practices of Apple supplier Pegatron, to which Apple transitioned some of the business it previously offered Foxconn in 2013.

In 2014, a BBC probe found factory staff in China were working in poor conditions.

The 12th annual report was released this week, and in it, Apple says it found more violations than it did a year ago, at least in part because of new suppliers and partners added to supply chain. "We're going further with health education programs and new opportunities for advancement at our suppliers".

Apple also issued its conflict minerals report, which is required by United States securities regulators. 16 smelters and refiners left Apple's supply chain, 10 of which were dropped due to their unwillingness to take part in a third-party audit of their practices, while the remaining six left out of choice.