Apple has published new information about working conditions in Chinese supplier factories where many iPhone, iPad and MacBook devices are assembled.
Daring Fireball's John Gruber pointed out on March 20 that the tech giant had updated its Supplier Responsibility page, which can be found on Apple's online store. This new data reflects the results of an investigation launched on February 13 by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to probe factories in Apple's supply chain, including huge facilities owned by Foxconn in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China.
Results from the FLA probe show improvement in compliance with a section of Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct stating that "a work week shall be restricted to 60 hours, including overtime, and workers shall take at least one day off every seven days."
According to Apple, FLA data collected on more than 500,000 workers shows that compliance with the 60-hour work week increased from 84 percent in January 2012 to 89 percent in February 2012. Employees averaged 48 hours of work per week in February, which happened to be the peak production month of Apple's newly released iPad, according to The Verge.
This update is yet another step Apple has taken to keep the public in the loop regarding working conditions in manufacturing plants overseas and to eventually improve the conditions there.
Apple in recent weeks has been the center of a controversy over reportedly grueling working conditions in partners' factories where iDevices are assembled. The firestorm reached a head last week when radio program "This American Life" (TAL) retracted an episode titled "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory," which contained excerpts from actor Mike Daisey's one-man show describing his visits to Chinese assembly plants and the alleged exploitation of workers he observed there. TAL announced on March 16 that the episode contained "partially fabricated" incidents, including those about Daisey's meeting underaged, overworked employees and older workers who had been poisoned by chemicals used in production of Apple's devices.
The episode, which aired on January 6 and became the most-downloaded episode in the show's history, inspired a popular Change.org petition demanding that Apple guarantee fair treatment of workers in its supply chain. The New York Times published a critical piece later in January that detailed a deadly explosion at Foxconn's Chengdu plant last year, as well as multiple worker suicides that took place at Foxconn locations between 2009 and 2011.
Apple was admitted to the FLA on January 13 and for the first time ever released a public list of its global suppliers. On February 13 Apple announced that the FLA would conduct an investigation of certain Chinese factories owned by Apple's manufacturing partners.
"We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we've asked the FLA to independently asses the performance of our largest suppliers," explained Apple CEO Tim Cook in a February 13 press release. "The inspectons now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports."
Take a look at Apple's current Supplier Responsibility page.
Do you think Apple has made the right moves so far to improve working conditions in overseas factories? Let us know in the comments below.
Take a look at the slideshow (below) for surprising facts about Foxconn factories where Apple's popular gadgets are made.