Apple, Foxconn vow to improve conditions in Asian factories

30 Mar 2012

The new Apple iPad

Apple has said it will work with manufacturing partner Foxconn to deal with wage and labour violations in Asian factories which produce many of Apple’s products.

Reuters reports that Apple’s main manufacturing partner Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of new workers for its plants and will stop illegal overtime. It said it would also improve safety conditions and would upgrade its on-site accommodation and amenities for its staff.

Foxconn said it would reduce working hours to 49 hours per week, including overtime, while keeping its total compensation for workers at the same level. The extra staff it will hire will make up for the lost hours.

The firm will also build new housing for staff, where it was found that numerous workers were crammed into dorm rooms. It will also improve accident reporting and will help workers enrol in social welfare programmes.

The announcement came during Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to China to further investment in the country. He spoke with government officials, reportedly telling Chinese vice-premier Li Keqiang that he was working to resolve labour issues in the country. He also visited workers at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory.

Apple has recently drawn controversy over labour practices at its partner manufacturing plants in Asia. In 2010, a number of Foxconn workers committed suicide and there were reports of accidents in its factories killing and injuring staff.

The consumer technology company allowed the Fair Labour Association to conduct audits of assembly suppliers in China. In a survey of three Foxconn plants and more than 35,000 workers, it found multiple violations, such as extreme working hours and unpaid overtime.

Apple has numerous manufacturing partners across Asia, but as Foxconn is its main partner, this announcement could influence other firms across the continent.

Foxconn has 1.2m workers and also builds products for Dell, HP, Amazon, Motorola Mobility, Nokia and Sony.