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Update: Apple supplier Foxconn hit on poor working conditions

Foxconn pledges improvements after criticism from Fair Labor Association

By Agam Shah
March 29, 2012 07:27 PM ET

IDG News Service - An investigation by the Fair Labor Association into factories operated by Apple supplier Foxconn in China found poor working conditions and worker abuse, leading Foxconn to pledge it will make improvements.

A monthlong investigation by FLA revealed compensation issues, health and safety risks, and issues that have led to a "sense of unsafe working conditions among workers," the organization said in a statement.

FLA claimed it gave Foxconn "a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours," and surveyed more than 35,000 workers, while investigating three of its factories. Foxconn Technology Group, owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry, is Apple's largest supplier and makes the iPad and iPhone. Independent groups have urged Apple to address the poor conditions of factory workers in China.

Foxconn has been under scrutiny over the past few years, following a string of suicide attempts at facilities in China. The company came under fire again earlier this year after the New York Times published a story describing poor working conditions at Chinese factories operated by Apple contractors. Nonprofit organizations such as are running campaigns calling for Apple to address the issue and make products ethically.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended Apple's record, saying the company is leading the way in improving working conditions. Apple also acknowledged violations related to issues such as wages, underage labor and working conditions in its 2012 annual supplier report issued in January.

While past investigations by watchdog groups such as Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) have covered just a few factory workers, FLA's exhaustive investigation covers three Foxconn factories in the cities of Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu. The organization says that if Foxconn were to take corrective action, the lives of 1.2 million workers would improve.

In the audit, FLA found that workers were forced to work extra hours and were not given appropriate compensation. Workers on average worked 56 hours per week, including overtime, which exceeded the Chinese legal limit of 49 hours per week including overtime. About 64.3% of the surveyed workers felt that their wage was not enough to meet their basic needs, and FLA also found issues related to the assessment of overtime pay.

On Thursday, Foxconn said it was committed to bringing working hours within the Chinese legal limits and to fairly compensating workers by July 2013. Foxconn committed itself to hiring and training more workers and to compensating workers for lost wages.

A considerable number of workers also had health and safety concerns, which was of particular concern to FLA after an explosion at the Chengdu factory last year killed three people.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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