The road to globalisation is littered with companies that have been caught out because they have failed to ensure workers in far away factories are treated properly – and paid properly, or that appropriate steps have been taken to protect the environment in the countries where their products are made.
A couple of months ago Nike had to deal with allegations that workers making its Converse brand shoes in Indonesia were being kicked and slapped, and called dogs and pigs.
And now Apple has come under fire from a group of Chinese environmental organisations for turning a blind eye to environmental pollution in its supply chain.
The allegations are contained in a report, “Pollution spreads through Apple’s supply chain” produced by Friends of Nature, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends, Green Stone, Environmental Action Network.
The report said: “Through our investigations, we discovered that the pollution from some of Apple’s suppliers had already caused severe damage to the environment.
Earlier this year, Apple produced its Supplier Responsibility Report 2011 which highlights the work it is doing in this area. Crucially, its says: “Apple’s procurement decisions take into account a facility’s social responsibility performance, along with factors such as quality, cost, and timely delivery. When social responsibility performance consistently fails to meet our expectations, we terminate business.”
Apple has so far declined to comment publicly on the report, although it is understood to have offered discussions to the authors.
There is no doubt that major corporations have made substantial strides in dealing with these issues. But if Apple and Nike can run into problems, then there can be few that can claim to have dealt with these issues completely.