Pressed by audit Apple sought, Foxconn agrees to changes

The Fair Labor Association was asked last month by Apple to audit three of its Foxconn final-assembly manufacturing plants in China - the massive, city-like factories where iPhones and iPads are produced for the world market.

The nonprofit group said yesterday that its inquiry, which included a survey of more than 35,000 randomly selected workers, had found "serious and pressing noncompliances with FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct, as well as Chinese labor law."

This morning, PC Magazine says, Foxconn promised changes:

Apple supplier Foxconn said this morning that it welcomes the results of a Fair Labor Association audit that found problems with excessive overtime and unsafe working conditions, among other things, and pledged to implement the group's suggestions.

"Foxconn has participated fully and openly in this review of Apple-focused business groups at our Longhua and Guanlan campuses in Shenzhen and our campus in Chengdu and this process is part of our long-standing commitment to working together with our customers to ensure that our employees are treated fairly and their rights are fully protected," Foxconn said in a statement.

FLA said its assessors logged more than 3,000 staff hours - observing conditions inside the plants, reviewing policies and procedures, examining documents such as payroll records and production schedules, and interviewing hundreds of Foxconn workers and managers both on- and off-site. Summing up its finding, it said: "FLA found excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation; several health and safety risks; and crucial communication gaps that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working conditions among workers."

You can read the whole report here, and find specific documentation here.  The audit marks an important step in the right direction for Apple, for its Chinese contract workers, and for customers of Apple products concerned about reports - some apparently fabricated, but not all - of working conditions that many Americans would consider inhumane.