National Consumers League Expresses Concern over New Apple Inc. Child Labor Revelations

Apple Inc. announced today that its internal audits had found more than 106 underage employees at 11 different locations in its supply chain; it found another 70 “historical” cases of child labor. The company also said that it had terminated contracts with a Chinese supplier, Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhuou Electronics, which employed 74 workers under age 16. Auditors found eight facilities with “bonded labor” –cases in which workers were compelled to labor to pay off excessive recruiting fees.

The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization with a long history of working to reduce child labor in the U.S. and abroad, applauds the termination of supplier contracts that rely on the work of child labor. “After much criticism, it appears that Apple has finally stepped up auditing of its supply chain. We urge the company to continue on that path as aggressively as possible. With 1.5 million workers in 14 countries, the 106 children found working may be the tip of the iceberg,” noted NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg who is a co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition, which represents 28 organizations, trying to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

“Children should not be working in electronics manufacturing–with its accompanying dangers. They should be in school and allowed to realize their full potential,” added Greenberg. “Given  Apple’s enormous profitability, it’s essential the company does everything in its power to stamp out child labor. Other electronics companies should take warning, and conduct rigorous audits of their supply chains.”

Apple suppliers in China, including the manufacturing behemoth FoxConn, have been criticized for poor working conditions and safety standards. Conditions were so bad, FoxConn felt compelled to install suicide nets to stop employees from plunging to their deaths off company rooftops. According to analyst Steven Millwood of TechAsia, Apple’s new  “supplier responsibility” report “details the same grim scene” for workers depicted in prior reports.

For immediate release: January 25, 2013
Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,


Education-for-Girls Activist Malala Yousafzai Walks Out of the Hospital after Surviving an Assassination Attempt

The world is celebrating great news that came in with the New Year: 15-year-old education activist Malala Yousafzai walked out of a Birmingham, England hospital on January 4th, nearly three months after the Taliban shot her in the head and neck during an assassination attempt in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Malala spoke out on behalf of her generation of girls having access to education —a position that was in sharp variance with Taliban extremists who tried to silence her.

Malala’s recovery, although far from complete, is being hailed as a miracle and her resilience is being celebrated far and wide. Malala’s courage has touched many, including pop-star Madonna, who dedicated a song to the girl in the days after the attack. She appeared at a concert with Malala’s name in large letters across her back.

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown cited Malala as a hero and visited Pakistan to press for open access to education. “Can Pakistan convert its momentary desire to speak out in support of Malala into a long term commitment to getting its three million girls and five million children into school?” asked Brown, who is currently serving as the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. Brown’s advocacy in support of Malala has led to calls to provide school access to all girls by 2015.

For more than two decades, the Child Labor Coalition has fought to protect children from the worst forms of child labor and Malala’s vision is central to that effort. “Access to education is one of the keys to reducing child labor—that’s what Malala is fighting for and that’s why her work has been so important,” noted CLC Co-Chair Sally Greenberg and the Executive Director of the National Consumers League. According to the Global Campaign for Education, 53 percent of out-of-school youth worldwide are girls, and millions of girls face discrimination, sexual and physical abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.

In Pakistan, educational inequalities abound. The World Bank estimates that only 57 percent of girls and women can read and write, and in rural areas, only 22 percent of girls have completed primary-level schooling, compared with 47 percent of boys. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, nearly one third of Pakistani children aged 5-14 are deprived of schooling, and the country is making “no advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.” Inspired by Malala’s case, however, the government of Pakistan has signaled its desire to provide equal access to education.

“The right to education is fundamental, and we stand with Malala and all those around the world who are working with us to make sure all children have equal access to high-quality public education,” said American Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, also a CLC co-chair, in the days following the attack.

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Please Join Our Protest Against Forced Child Labor in Uzbekistan, Monday, March 11

The Child Labor Coalition and the Cotton Campaign are seeking your help:

Stop Forced Labor, Forced Child Labor and Human Rights Abuses in Uzbekistan During the Uzbekistan Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington, DC

March 11, 2013, 12 – 1 PM EST, at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, Massachusetts Ave. near Dupont Circle (1746 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20036)

Every year for decades, the government of Uzbekistan has forced millions of children and adults – teachers, nurses, doctors, public servants and private sector employees – to pick cotton under appalling conditions. Those who refuse are expelled from school, fired from their jobs, denied public benefits or worse. The government combines these penalties
with threats, detains and harasses Uzbek activists seeking to monitor the situation, and continues to refuse the International Labor Organization’s access to monitor the harvest. Uzbekistan is one of the largest cotton producing countries in the world, and cotton harvested there by forced labor finds its way into the U.S. apparel industry.

Modern-day slavery in the cotton fields persists as long as Uzbek citizens are denied fundamental human rights. Under the rule of long-time President Islam Karimov, torture is an enduring problem in Uzbekistan’s detention facilities, journalists and human rights defenders are imprisoned for legitimate civil society activism, and religious practice is
persecuted. Gulshan Karaeva, Uktam Pardaev and Elena Urlaeva were among the victims of harassment and arrest for attempting to document the 2012 cotton harvest.

Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov is visiting Washington, DC to seek increased support from the U.S. Congress and the Executive for the government of Uzbekistan. Join us outside the Uzbek Embassy to call for an end of forced labor and human rights abuses as conditions for support from the American people. When political change inevitably comes to Uzbekistan, the Uzbek people will remember if the United States did everything it could to help end their servitude.