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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Fair Labor Association Says Progress Has Been Made at Apple Supplier Foxconn
A labor group monitoring three Chinese factories that make iPhones and other Apple products says once-oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) published its final status report verifying the implementation of action items following assessments conducted by the FLA at three facilities of Apple?s largest supplier, Foxconn. The final verification reviewed action items slated for completion from January through June of 2013, finding that while Foxconn did significantly reduce working hours, four of the six pending items related to hours of work had not been completed. The assessment found that while Foxconn is largely complying with the FLA 60-hour/week Code standard, it did not meet its target of full compliance with the Chinese legal limit of 36 hours of overtime per month by July 1, 2013.
Independent labor monitoring organizations engaged by the FLA returned to the three Foxconn facilities for the verification between October 28 and November 8, 2013, to conduct visual observations, review records and documentation, and interview workers and management. This was the third and final verification of the robust 15-month action plan Apple and Foxconn created in response to the findings from FLA's full body scan of working conditions and compliance with Chinese labor laws at three Foxconn facilities in Longhua, Guanlan and Chengdu in the first quarter of 2012. Foxconn management provided full cooperation and unrestricted access to the facilities and workers throughout the verification process.
"Foxconn's compliance with the FLA working hours standard is a significant step in the right direction," said Auret van Heerden, President & CEO of the Fair Labor Association. "FLA's expectation is that Apple, working with Foxconn, will continue to rigorously monitor working hours to ensure that they comply with the FLA standard of 60 hours per week but also make progress toward the Chinese legal limit of 49 hours per week. We welcome Foxconn's commitment to continue working toward achieving its target."
FLA assessors verified that workers at the Longhua and Chengdu facilities worked no more than 60 hours every week between March and October; the same was true in the Guanlan facility with the exception of seven weeks during this period when working hours exceeded 60 hours. The assessment found that between March and October 2013, on average more than half of the workforce had worked beyond the Chinese legal limit of 36 overtime hours per month in all three facilities.
FLA assessors found that no interns had been engaged at any of the three facilities since the January 2013 verification visits and that the internship programs had been concluded at all three facilities. Assessors also verified that construction of additional exits and toilets was underway at the three facilities, with completion slated for the end of the year.
Seperately, Apple sent medical experts to the Shanghai factory of contractor Pegatron Corp, who concluded that working conditions did not lead to the death from pneumonia of a 15-year-old boy who had lied to gain employment.
"Last month we sent independent medical experts from the U.S. and China to conduct an investigation of the (Pegatron) factory. While they have found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones," Apple said in a statement on Thursday.
The Taiwanese company concluded from its own investigation that the death was not related to work as the employee had only recently joined, and because the assembly line environment should not cause a condition such as pneumonia.