Labor group sees progress at major Apple supplier (Update)

Dec 12, 2013
A woman walks by a banner advertising iPhone 5c at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. A Seoul court rejected Samsung's claim that iPhone and iPad models violated three of its patents, another setback for the South Korean electronics giant in a global battle with Apple over rights to technologies that power smartphones and tablets. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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 audit released Thursday by the Fair Labor Association represents the final assessment in a process that started last year at plants run in China by Apple's largest supplier, Foxconn.

Reports depicting the Foxconn plants as inhumane sweatshops prompted Apple Inc. to hold its foreign contractors to higher standards. The Cupertino, Calif., company joined the Fair Labor Association last year as part of a commitment to improve the situation.

Apple is the only major tech company in a 14-year-old labor group that also includes clothing makers, shoe makers and other manufacturers promising to curb abuses in overseas factories.

The report concluded Foxconn factories in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan had reached virtually all the goals set out in a plan adopted last year.

"We are proud of the progress we have made together with the FLA and Foxconn," Apple said in a statement. "Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple."

Excessively long work schedules remain a problem, however. The FLA says more than half of the 170,000 employees at the Foxconn factories exceeded China's legal limit of 36 monthly overtime hours from March through October.

Foxconn plants in Longhua and Chengdu consistently limited workers' time on the clock below 60 hours per week during the review period, according to the FLA. That met the labor group's standards, but surpassed China's legal limit of 49 hours per week.

Apple said it has reduced excessive overtime at Foxconn and other suppliers, cutting the average workweek to 53 hours, which the company said is well below industry norms.

"We will continue to provide transparency by reporting working-hours compliance each month on our website and we are committed to reducing overtime even further," Apple said.

The Guanlan factory exceeded the 60-hour work week during seven weeks of the FLA's review period.

Foxconn is part of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

Foxconn's progress is "a significant step in the right direction," said Auret van Heerden, FLA's president. He said the FLA expects Apple to continue pushing Foxconn to pare the amount of time that Foxconn employees work.

Even as conditions at the Foxconn factories plants improve, there are recurring complaints about abuses at other Chinese facilities that make Apple products.

China Labor Watch, a nonprofit group that monitors Chinese factories, said in a recent report that it uncovered a wide range of violations during an examination of factories in Shanghai and Suzhou run by Apple contractor Pegatron Corp. The problems included sexual discrimination, excessive working hours, poor living conditions and pollution.

Explore further: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Labor group says Apple making progress at Foxconn

May 16, 2013

(AP)—A labor group Apple Inc. joined to assess working conditions at three manufacturing plants in China, where its products are made, says conditions are improving. But employees are still working more hours than the country's ...

Apple labor fixes in China said ahead of schedule

Aug 22, 2012

(AP) — The labor group hired by Apple Inc. to assess working conditions at three manufacturing plants in China said Tuesday that the improvements it recommended in March are being implemented ahead of schedule.

Independent group inspecting Apple suppliers

Feb 13, 2012

(AP) -- Apple said Monday that an independent group, the Fair Labor Association, has started inspecting the working conditions in the Chinese factories where its iPads and iPhones are assembled.

Foxconn to widen scope of union elections

Feb 04, 2013

Taiwan-owned Foxconn Technology Group, a leading maker of Apple's iPhones and gadgets for other global brands, is widening the scope of union elections at its sprawling facilities in China.

iPhone manufacturer faces labor complaints

Sep 12, 2012

(AP)—The company that manufactures Apple's iPhones has responded to an accusation that vocational students are forced to work in its Chinese factories by saying Wednesday its agreement with their schools allows them to ...

Recommended for you

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

15 hours ago

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

19 hours ago

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

20 hours ago

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

Dec 19, 2014

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

Clooney slams skittish Hollywood after Sony hack

Dec 19, 2014

Film star George Clooney slammed the Hollywood movie industry for failing to stand up against the cyber threats that prompted Sony Pictures to cancel release of the movie "The Interview."

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.