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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Apple suppliers improve: audit (2)

By Chen Xin and Huang Yuli (China Daily)

08:48, February 17, 2012

Liu said his company would help FLA carry out the investigation and would not intervene in the questionnaire and interview process.

The company did not inform workers of the audit in advance but "just asked them to pay attention to their personal hygiene", Liu said.

"We never ignore different voices from workers. Voices, be they positive or negative, can reveal workers' real feelings and thoughts," he said. "We expect a fair and objective evaluation."

In response to questions over the FLA's objectivity, Heerden said: "We have independent access that allows us to go to any facilities we want to visit, and we own the intellectual property of what we collect, and we can publish it.

"The data would not go through anybody else's hands - neither Foxconn nor Apple. Transparency is the best protection of our independence."

FLA has more than 200 members, including 34 companies. The organization charges membership fees each year from its corporate members. Apple recently became a member of FLA. Among FLA's board of directors are six entrepreneurs, according to China Business News.

"I can see that there's been so much bad news about Foxconn in the media, but I do believe we have reached a turning point with Foxconn. I think they are determined to get this right," Heerden said.

Huang Leping, head of the non-governmental organization Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Study Center of Labor, said Apple's involvement in the investigation shows that the company has acknowledged that it has encountered problems in labor protection at the supplier level.

Huang suggested that more NGOs, especially Chinese ones, should be introduced to jointly carry out the audit to make results fairer and reflect the real working conditions at Apple's Chinese suppliers, because standards may vary in different agencies.

Content, procedure and names of the experts that carry out the audit should also be open to the public to make the investigation more transparent and reliable, he added.

Chen Hong contributed to this story.

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