has made available its "Apple Supplier Responsibility 2012 Progress Report" in which the Cupertino company claims it conducted a total of 229 audits, up 80 percent over 2010. More than 100 of those were performed at factories that Apple has never audited before. Facilities that were re-examined "consistently showed fewer violations," and most of them improved their audit scores year-over-year, the company said.
That doesn't mean there wasn't any cause for concern. Many violations were still found, including a total of six active and 13 historical cases of underage labor at five facilities.
"In each case, the facility had insufficient controls to verify age or detect false documentation," Apple noted in its report. "We found no instances of intentional hiring of underage labor."
Apple said that some of its suppliers work with third-party labor agencies to hire contract workers from various countries, and these agencies in turn may work through multiple sub-agencies in the hiring country.
All told, over a quarter -- 26 percent -- of Apple's audited suppliers were in violation of labor practices in some form or another, whether it related to underage labor, working hours, anti-discrimination, or other violations.