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Investigation reveals misconduct at Apple factory in China

An Apple supplier in China has come under scrutiny in the news after an independent investigation by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) deemed the working conditions at its factory to be unsafe.

"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," president and chief executive officer Auret van Heerden said on March 29.

The company at the centre of the controversy, Foxconn, is the largest private employer in China.

Stories of misconduct at the factory arose in 2011, resulting in Apple employing the FLA to investigate – an enquiry was officially begun on February 13.

A report revealing the FLA's findings was released on March 29 and is available for public download on its website.

"Joining the Fair Labor Association is voluntary," Mr van Heerden said.

"But once a company joins, FLA sets the rules of investigations and has full access to any supplier, owns the information collected and publishes its findings and recommendations for remedial action."

According to the FLA, Foxconn has "serious and pressing non-compliances with the FLA's Workplace Code of Conduct, as well as Chinese labour law".

Overworking – some employers are putting in above 60 hours per week – and the employment of migrants and youth workers are two areas the FLA has identified as being in need of improvement.

However, conversations with some of the factory's employees revealed that the Chinese work ethic may be contributing to the high number of hours being clocked each week by certain individuals – with 33.8 per cent claiming they would like to work more.

In contrast, 17.7 per cent said that they were overworked – and the majority, 48 per cent, felt comfortable with the workload.

Apple's media centre has remained quiet on the issue but chief executive officer, Tim Cook, has been photographed visiting the factory.

The company's decision to employ the FLA is an indication that Apple is committed to providing a secure work environment for its employees.

Mr van Heerden also reported that Foxconn will remedy its shortfalls.

"Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly."

Posted by Jess O'Connor

Castleford