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Human Trafficking Victims To Be Employed At Apple Stores In The Future

Human Trafficking Victims To Be Employed At Apple Stores In The Future
A program that would see victims of human trafficking getting behind-the-scenes jobs at its stores has been launched by Apple Inc.
Such victims would be mentored to pass interviews for jobs such as a caretaker or landscaping among others by an NGO which is partnering with the US tech giant.
The company said that the identity of the victims would not be made known to Apple and would work with suppliers instead of the company directly. But Apple would monitor the entire process to ensure its appropriate implementation. .
This announcement also comes at a time when the company has also bagged the Stop Slavery Award. Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts in London accepted the award which was awarded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The award was instituted to applaud the effort of those large companies that undertake appropriate measures to ensure that there is reduction or no forced labour in the companies that constitutes their supply chains. The jury of the award praised the Apple's "extremely robust" audit programme of its supply chain members and the applauded the fact that it had "openly shared its learnings with the public".
However the decision to choose Apple for the award was described as “a joke” by one campaign group.
"Apple may be doing more compared to other companies but that is because it has the resources to do so," said Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch. "However, Apple isn't doing enough, as forced labour persists in its suppliers' factories in China."
While already being implemented, there are some who claim that the trafficking victims scheme of Apple has until now been able to employ a handful of people.
The NGPOO partnering with Apple in the scheme is the UN's International Organization for Migration.
While currently, the scheme only allows its third party to appoint victims of human trafficking, it may be extended to include appointments in Apple directly in the future as front-of-house retail staff employed by Apple itself.
"Though we have only just started, we see huge opportunity to be a beacon of hope for trafficking survivors integrating them into our retail team," Ahrendts said in her acceptance speech. "These efforts are just a part of a broader set of initiatives to eliminate modern slavery from every part of our company, in every part of the world."
Since 2017, a similar program in the UK is run by the Co-operative Group.
Apple was also recognised for its ban on supply chain firms if they engaged in forcefully confiscating the passports of their workers or force people to work for them till such time they recover the debt that the worker owes.
Suppliers have been forced by Apple to return more than $30 million to more than 35000 people in the last decade through its audits aimed at identifying companies that illegally and immorally charge people recruitment fees to get a job, Ahrendts said. Those third party contractors who were found engaging in this practice were banned if they did not return the money and were placed on one-year probation is they returned. Additionally, the efforts by Apple to ethically source the materials for its devices from places like Congo were also highlighted by Ahrendts.
The US tech giant was pointed out at by Amnesty International in 2016 as being amongst those tech companies that did not manage to ascertain whether children had been used to mine the cobalt that was being used by them for their devices.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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