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'Significant Issues' at Foxconn Factories

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a protest against Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, which manufactures Apple products in China, outside an Apple retail outlet in Hong Kong on May 7, 2011. (ANTONY DICKSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Fair Labor Association has issued a report on Foxconn, Apple's largest supplier in China. From the report:

The findings of FLA’s nearly month-long investigation revealed serious and pressing noncompliances with FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct, as well as Chinese labor law.

The FLA found more than 50 violations at three factories--thousands of workers weren't properly compensated for overtime, and 43 percent of workers reported either experiencing or witnessing an accident. NPR's Steve Henn reports:

Workers at Foxconn plants making Apple products are routinely asked to work more than 60 hours a week.  During peak production, the average worker at these plants was putting in what the Fair Labor Association's President Auret van Heerden called, 'excessive amounts of overtime.'

Henn talks to Melissa Block about what this means for Foxconn and for Apple.

So, what that means is to address the overtime problem, Foxconn will have to both cut hours and raise wages at its plant. And when you're talking bout cutting the hours of hundreds of thousand of employees, it becomes this incredibly enormous undertaking. Foxconn will need to hire tens of thousands of new employees. It will probably need to build new dormitories and cafeterias. But still, Foxconn has pledged that by July of 2013, it will abide by Chinese labor laws and cut overtime at all its Apple plants.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Apple's Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited Foxconn's new iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China.

The LA Times reports Apple said in a statement Thursday that it "shared the [FLA's] 'goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere.'

"We fully support their recommendations. We think empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential," the company said. "Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple's supply chain a model for the industry."


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