Apple supplier promises reforms after investigation finds ‘serious’ violations

An independent investigation of the conditions in Chinese factories that produce Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad found serious and pressing violations of workplace codes and Chinese law.

In response to the investigation’s findings, which were released Thursday, Apple supplier Foxconn promised to reduce working hours while protecting pay by July 2013. The change will require the company to expand its workforce and housing facilities.

Foxconn, the largest private employer in China, also committed to improving health and safety conditions and reducing restrictions on union organizing.

The investigation by the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an oversight group, found that over the last year, employees in three Chinese Foxconn factories worked on average more than 60 hours per week, in violation of the associations code of conduct and Chinese legal limits. Apple had agreed to abide by the FLA’s workplace codes.

According to the report, some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required day off.

The report found that Foxconns pay is higher than the Chinese minimum wage, but some workers did not receive proper compensation for overtime. Overtime was paid in 30-minute increments, so workers who completed 29 minutes of overtime received no pay.  

Almost two thirds of the workers said the pay does not meet their basic needs.

The FLA study also found numerous health and safety problems. More than 43 percent of the workers said they have experienced or witnessed an accident, such as a hand injury or factory vehicle accident. 

Foxconn’s policy was to only report an accident if it resulted in a production stoppage. But in response to the report, the company said it will record all future accidents resulting in injuries.

The report found that Foxconn had made safety improvements after aluminum dust caused an explosion one year ago.

The Fair Labor Association gave Apple’s largest supplier the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers,” said Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the FLA. Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly.”