Apple posts report on iPod plant investigation

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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