Apple And Foxconn Improve Conditions At iPad Factories
Apple’s attempts to clean up its supply chain continue after an audit of three Foxconn factories reveals improvements
Working conditions for Chinese staff at Foxconn plants making Apple iPhones and iPads have improved, according to a new report.
Foxconn has also committed to bring its maximum working time down within the next year, in order to comply with the Chinese legal limit of overtime.
At the moment, the Chinese legal limit is 40 hours per week plus an average of nine hours of overtime per week. Foxconn has already reduced hours to under 60 per week (including overtime) and hopes to reach full compliance with the Chinese laws by July 2013, the audit from the Fair Labor Association revealed.
Foxconn is famous as the Taiwanese-based maker of Apple iPads and iPhones, amongst other technologies designed by other vendors.
Following a spate of worker suicides in 2010, Apple found itself under intense scrutiny from human rights groups and vowed to improve conditions in factories operated by Foxconn. Indeed, in June 2010, Apple’s late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs was forced to dismiss claims that Foxconn was a sweatshop.
Foxconn has been battling bad press ever since 2010 after the suicides. Matters were not helped in March this year when an investigation by the FLA into working conditions at Foxconn’s three factories in Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu found “serious and pressing noncompliances” with FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct.
That investigation suggested a series of remedial measures, and the FLA has now published its audit of how things are going at three plants it investigated.
The audit found that Foxconn has “completed all of the 195 actions that were due”. “In addition, 89 action items were completed ahead of their deadlines. The remaining 76 items are due over the course of the next year.”
Apple due diligence
“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made. We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program,” said Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association.
“When we finished our initial investigation in March, Foxconn promised to address concerns with its internship program by ensuring that student interns do not work overtime, their work has a more direct connection to their field of study, and they understand that they are free to terminate the internship if and when they wish.”
FLA also found that Foxconn took steps to bring its factories into full compliance with Chinese legal limits on working hours by July 2013.
“Foxconn has already reduced hours to under 60 per week (including overtime) with the goal of reaching full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 40 hours per week plus an average of nine hours of overtime per week while protecting worker compensation. This commitment was one of the most significant to flow from the assessments,” said the FLA.
FLA’s verification found that many physical changes to improve worker health and safety were made during this period, including changing the design of workers’ equipment to guard against repetitive stress injuries, updating of maintenance policies to ensure equipment was working properly, and testing of emergency protective equipment like eyewashes and sprinklers.
However, Foxconn cannot afford to rest on its laurels. In May, some of its workers threatened to throw themselves off the roof of a factory building, while in June another Foxconn worker committed suicide by jumping from his apartment window.
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