Fair Labor Association Says Apple’s Suppliers Improving

Apple's Chinese suppliers still have progress to make on work hours and other issues, but the company's latest set of audits—overseen by the Fair Labor Association—shows significant improvements.

The company that manufactures many of the Apple devices you use on a daily basis has made a lot of progress in addressing criticism of how it treats its workforce, but it still has more to do.

And with the help of the Fair Labor Association, Foxconn and other Apple suppliers know where to focus their energies next.

More details:

The back story: In recent years, Foxconn in particular has received a lot of negative press over the treatment of the workers who make many of the devices consumers use every day. Apple has worked to address this situation, offering up yearly reports on Foxconn’s progress toward improving the work environment. The reports, based on annual audits, are monitored by the officials of the Fair Labor Association, which has worked closely with Apple and its suppliers to help raise the quality of the work environment for employees. But FLA is not without its critics, who argue the association faces an inherent conflict of interest because it receives funding from the companies it monitors.

The latest: In the latest report [PDF], the result of 393 audits representing 1.5 million workers at different levels of the supply chain, both Apple and FLA say that working conditions have improved significantly. The audits found that 96 percent of the suppliers’ employment practices were compliant with Apple’s standards for fair treatment of workers; on the other hand, only 62 percent complied with standards for protecting juvenile workers. On the issue of working hours, Apple said the suppliers were 92 percent compliant with its standard of no more than 60 hours per week, but Foxconn is still working to keep employees below the maximum of 49 hours allowed by Chinese law, according to The New York Times.

Foxconn is also making changes regarding unions, according to the association.

“The increase of worker representatives in Foxconn’s union committees is encouraging,” FLA President and CEO Auret van Heerden said in a statement. “When FLA first visited Foxconn last year, the union committees—like those at most other factories in China—were dominated by management. By this time next year, we expect worker participation to be even higher.”

(Apple press photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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