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Apple suppliers improve: audit

By Chen Xin and Huang Yuli (China Daily)

08:48, February 17, 2012

Investigation finds better working conditions at Foxconn plants

SHENZHEN - A preliminary audit commissioned by Apple found Chinese factories that make components for Apple products have improved working conditions for their employees.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has started inspecting the working conditions of Apple's suppliers in China and is going to report the results in early March.

The investigation comes on the heels of the supplier responsibility report Apple released in January. The reputation of Foxconn, Apple's largest supplier, has been tarnished by an explosion at its Chengdu plant as well as by frequent media reports about worker suicides, dangerous conditions and overworked employees.

FLA president Auret van Heerden did not draw a full picture of working conditions at Foxconn, but he described facilities at those plants as "very modern and very high tech" after visiting two factories in Shenzhen and another in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"There was definitely a problem with aluminum dust (that led to an explosion at the Chengdu plant in May last year). After that, they developed a new technology to extract and recycle the dust," Heerden said.

After reports came out that a hazardous chemical used to polish iPad parts can cause neural diseases, Foxconn began using robots instead of workers for this job, he said.

The audit used an iPad to collect responses to questions from 3,500 workers at Foxconn plants during interviews. Questions covered matters such as hiring and firing policies, dorm conditions and mental health.

The FLA mobilized 30 Chinese labor experts to perform the audit.

"Foxconn welcomes a third-party organization to evaluate our employment, production and workers' living standards," said Liu Kun on behalf of Foxconn Technology Group.

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