Apple's Foxconn Factories Being Audited

The president of the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit the manufacturer joined a month ago as its first technology company member, began the first "special voluntary audit" at Foxconn City in Shenzhen on Feb. 13.

Apple announced Feb. 13 that the president of the Fair Labor Association, Auret van Heerden, began the first inspection in its audits of the manufacturer's final assembly suppliers, including the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, that have been widely criticized as grueling for workers. Apple joined the nonprofit FLA a month ago and is its first technology member, according to that January 2012 announcement.

FLA is focused on working conditions inside factories, wherever they are located. It has developed a Workplace Code of Conduct that is based on ILO standards, along with a monitoring, remediation, and verification process to achieve compliance with the standards.

Van Heerden began at the Foxconn City facility in Shenzhen, according to Apple.

"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 Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "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."

In its news release, Apple said FLA "will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The FLA’s team will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment."

Apple's suppliers will fully cooperation with FLA and allow unrestricted access to their operations. FLA's findings and recommendations from the first assessments will be posted in early March at www.fairlabor.org. When all of the inspections are finished, the nonprofit will have evaluated facilities where more than 90 percent of Apple’s products are assembled.

Apple said it "has audited every final assembly factory in its supply chain each year since 2006, including more than 40 audits of Foxconn manufacturing and final assembly facilities. Details of Apple's supplier responsibility program, including the results of more than 500 factory audits led by Apple throughout its supply chain over the past five years, are available at www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility."

The health and safety component of Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct and 2012 Progress Report, dated January 2012, is available here.

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