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Apple posts report on iPod plant investigation

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, August 17, 2006
News Categories: Apple

Apple has posted an extensive report on its findings from the company’s investigation of working and living conditions at the Foxconn iPod factory in China. Apple said its audit—which was in response to much-publicized allegations of unacceptable worker treatment—covered labor standards, working and living environment, compensation, overtime and worker treatment. “We found the supplier to be in compliance in the majority of the areas audited,” Apple said. “However, we did find violations to our Code of Conduct, as well as other areas for improvement that we are working with the supplier to address.”

Apple said its investigation confirmed that all workers earn at least the local minimum wage, and that more than half were earning above minimum wage. “We found no instances of forced overtime and employees confirmed in interviews that they could decline overtime requests without penalty,” the company said. “We did, however, find that employees worked longer hours than permitted by our Code of Conduct, which limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week.”

Most living conditions were satisfactory, Apple said, with dormitories having “TV rooms, potable water, private lockers, free laundry service, and public telephone.” Apple said others were not up to its standards. “Our audit of on-site dormitories found no violations of our Code of Conduct. We were not satisfied, however, with the living conditions of three of the off-site leased dorms that we visited,” the company said. “Two of the dormitories, originally built as factories, now contain a large number of beds and lockers in an open space, and from our perspective, felt too impersonal. The third contained triple-bunks, which in our opinion didn’t provide reasonable personal space. To address this interim housing situation, the supplier acquired additional land and is currently building new dormitories. These plans were in place prior to our audit, and will increase the total living space by 46% during the next four months.”

Apple said worker treatment and factory facilities were up to par. “Employees work in factories that are generally bright, clean and modern with air-conditioned assembly line areas, and are provided with protective gear,” Apple said. “Our interviews with employees revealed areas of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction. A majority of employees interviewed were pleased with the work environment and specifically noted the opportunity for advancement, widespread year-end bonuses, and the reputation of the supplier in the industry. Additionally, employees consistently mentioned that they felt safe and secure in both the workplace and the dormitories.”

Looking to the future, Apple said it has hired Verité, an “internationally recognized leader in workplace standards dedicated to ensuring that people around the world work under safe, fair and legal conditions.” In closing, Apple said it is “committed to ensuring compliance with our Code of Conduct and will complete audits of all final assembly suppliers of Mac and iPod products in 2006.”

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Comments

1

Many will probably cry foul… but I have to say I’m impressed that this was even published. I’m glad that Apple is making an effort to share the wealth and improve the lives of people who probably aren’t aware that they deserve better.

Posted by bsp on August 17, 2006 at 6:39 PM (PDT)

2

yeah, but ... whatever. Check out the film “China Blue” for an interesting look at workers making jeans in China. It’s unlikely any Chinese factory workers would feel comfortable enough to actually tell inspectors about their jobs without fear of reprisals.

Posted by Lawrence Mikkelsen in New Zealand on August 17, 2006 at 7:04 PM (PDT)

3

Yeah Lawrence, so what’s your bright solution? Easy for you to #####, but how exactly you expect them to find out the “truth” is beyond me. They have done more than I expected them to do, and even hired someone to keep an eye on the situation. Now it’s time for the other consumer electronics manufacturers (LG, Samsung, Creative, etc) to get an unreasonable amount of press and a ridiculously blown up story on so called poor working conditions.

Let’s face it, poor working conditions are rife all around the world for most of the toys we play with. If you had them all made in nice first world countries like the US and Australia, they would also doulbe in price accordingly.

Posted by DC on August 18, 2006 at 3:23 AM (PDT)

4

Honestly, the way they talk about increasing the living space by 46% reminds me of laying hens.

I manufacture in China myself, and everytime I go there I feel personally responsible for the people who work for me, although most of the conditions are beyond my control. All I can do is to go for subcontractors who treat their labors with respect.

Posted by Gary Larson fan on August 18, 2006 at 3:46 AM (PDT)

5

I’d say these guys have it good.. imagine what other factories are like..  only reason this was brought up is everyone is making a big deal about apple and the ipod..

Posted by psxp on August 18, 2006 at 7:49 AM (PDT)

6

These guys have it good? Jesus! They’ve been working 60+ hours a week without any days off, and living in grim on-site factory dorms where the minimum of “TV rooms, potable water, private lockers, free laundry service, and public telephone” hasn’t always been available.

Our society is going to go down in history as being extremely cruel to people in poor countries. We are so rich in resources yet so stingy and uncaring.

Not that there’s much we can do as individuals, but damn, to pretend that it’s perfectly acceptable from a moral standpoint is bizarre to me.

Posted by Dan on August 18, 2006 at 12:40 PM (PDT)

7

Let’s face it, poor working conditions are rife all around the world for most of the toys we play with.

Gasp! Those evil slave laborers in Stuttgart cracking their whips to spit those Porsches out! smile

only reason this was brought up is everyone is making a big deal about apple and the ipod..

Apple is not the first to have this sort of investigation happen to them. Just Ask Nike. When you get to be Top Dog, there are going to be a lot of others who will want to cut you down, or want their pound of flesh.

Apple NEEDS to do and publicize this report, especially when their initial “investigation” found virtually nothing wrong with their pet subcontractor only to be embarrassed by Foxconn’s own subsequent disclosure of ‘discrepancies’, and of acknowledgement to further official and media inquiries concerning the company’s working conditions.

Posted by flatline response on August 21, 2006 at 11:33 PM (PDT)

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