Apple’s offer to block shareholder proposal on forced labor rejected by US SEC, letter shows

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The US Securities and Exchange Commission has rejected an attempt by Apple to skip a shareholder proposal calling on the iPhone maker to be more transparent about its efforts to keep forced labor out of its supply chain.

A group of shareholders asked Apple’s board of directors to prepare a report earlier this year on how the company is protecting workers in its supply chain from forced labor. The request for information concerned the extent to which Apple had identified suppliers and sub-suppliers who were at risk of forced labor and how many suppliers Apple took action against.

In a letter from the SEC that was reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday, regulators denied Apple’s attempt to block the proposal, saying that “the proposal’s main objectives appear not to have been implemented”.

The letter means Apple will have to vote on the proposal at its annual shareholders meeting next year, unless an agreement is reached with the shareholders who put it up.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

US lawmakers passed law last week banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region because of concerns about forced labor.

“Concerns about the concentration camp-like conditions for Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims living under the Chinese government are rightly growing at all levels of government,” said Vicky Wyatt, campaign director for SumOfUs, a group that supports the shareholder proposal, in a statement Wednesday.

Apple routinely asks the SEC to skip shareholder motions, and motions are granted about half the time.

The SEC also denied Apple’s motion to skip a shareholder proposal that would give investors more information about the company’s use of nondisclosure agreements.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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