FLA says Apple, Foxconn have improved working conditions in China

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The working conditions at Chinese plants of Foxconn, a major supplier of Apple products, have improved, said the Fair Labor Association in its report on Wednesday. These factories make most of the world’s iPads and iPhones. 

According to CNN, the FLA said a June 20 to July 6 audit showed that “immediate health and safety measures” have been made, such as enforcement of breaks, changing equipment design to reduce repetitive stress injuries and testing of emergency equipment like eyewashes and sprinklers.

The company has been facing criticism for poor conditions for its more than 1.2 million employees in China, with number of suicide cases in 2010, This raised eyebrows of the labor bodies.

In June this year New York based China Labour Watch had accused 10 suppliers to Apple in southern and eastern China of violatiing of workers’ rights. These include excessive overtime and hazardous work conditions.

“This investigation of 10 different Apple factories in China finds that harmful, damaging work environments characterised by illegally long hours for low levels of pay are widespread in Apple’s supply chain,” the group said.

The workers rights group found “deplorable” conditions at Apple suppliers in China, following a four month probe of several firms. The probe showed workers work up to 180 hours of overtime a month during peak periods, exceeding the legal limit of 36 hours per month. It cited Riteng, a unit of Taiwan’s Pegatron Corp, as an example.

Taking swipe at Taiwanese tycoon Terry Gou’s Foxconn Technology Group, the group said the world’s most valuable technology company are making iPhones and iPads in massive sweat shops.

Foxconn said it had introduced counselors, started a 24-hour phone counseling service and opened a stress room where workers can take out frustration on mannequins with bats.

“The verification confirmed that Apple and Foxconn are ahead of schedule in improving the conditions under which some of the world’s most popular electronics are being made,” Auret van Heerden, President and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, said in a press release.

“Apple and Foxconn’s progress since the March assessment, combined with the additional actions planned through July 2013, would create the roadmap for all Chinese suppliers in the tech industry.”

The group also praised Foxconn’s efforts to change local legislation in Shenzhen to extend unemployment insurance to all migrant workers in the area, not just those who hold Shenzhen residence permits.

“Our hope is that our efforts will not only benefit Foxconn, but that they will also serve as a model for other companies and help improve working conditions for the manufacturing industry throughout China,” said Louis Woo, Special Assistant to the CEO, Foxconn Technology Group.

“We are investing in workplace enhancements because our employees are our greatest asset and we are fully committed to continuing to ensure that they have a safe and healthy working environment.”

Apple and Foxconn’s progress since the March assessment, combined with the additional actions planned through July 2013, would create the roadmap for all Chinese suppliers in the tech industry.”

The group also praised Foxconn’s efforts to change local legislation in Shenzhen to extend unemployment insurance to all migrant workers in the area, not just those who hold Shenzhen residence permits.

“Our hope is that our efforts will not only benefit Foxconn, but that they will also serve as a model for other companies and help improve working conditions for the manufacturing industry throughout China,” said Louis Woo, Special Assistant to the CEO, Foxconn Technology Group.

“We are investing in workplace enhancements because our employees are our greatest asset and we are fully committed to continuing to ensure that they have a safe and healthy working environment.”