Apple invites audits of working conditions at its Chinese supplier

Apple will let a labor-rights group evaluate the working conditions at factories in China that manufacture its products.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) will conduct voluntary audits of Apple’s suppliers at the company’s request. Auret van Heerden, the association’s president, and a team of labor-rights experts plan to begin the inspections Monday at a massive production facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.

“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”

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Apple has come under scrutiny for the conditions at its plants overseas. Foxconn City has more than 230,000 workers and has been the target of criticism from human-rights groups over working conditions, including worker deaths and suicides. Last week, Apple stores around the world were targeted by protests over labor conditions at the company’s suppliers.

The protests and complaints have not led to any action in Washington yet. In the past, companies have been targeted by legislation after negative reports about labor practices. 

Apple says it has audited every final assembly factory in its supply chain annually since 2006, including more than 40 audits of Foxconn. Apple became the first tech firm to join the Fair Labor Association last month.

“We found that Apple takes supplier responsibility seriously and we look forward to their participation in the Fair Labor Association," van Heerden said. "We welcome Apple's commitment to greater transparency and independent oversight, and we hope its participation will set a new standard for the electronics industry.”

Apple's stock crossed the $500 threshold on Monday for the first time, solidifying the firm's status as the most valuable company in the world.

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