Foxconn's 60-hour weeks at Apple factories as inspectors find workplace abuses
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Friday 30 March 2012
Inspectors found "serious and pressing" breaches of Chinese labour laws at the factories that make Apple's iPhones and iPads, with production line employees routinely working more than 60 hours a week and often for more than 10 days in a row.
The audit, by the Fair Labour Association, which was created to stamp out sweatshop conditions in the clothing industry in the 1990s, found thousands of workers at three Foxconn factories lived in fear of workplace accidents and doubted company safety procedures.
Apple invited the FLA in after a public outcry over workplace abuses at its largest manufacturer, including a spate of suicides in 2010 and fatal fires caused by dust released when iPads are polished.
Reporters and human rights campaigners have reported that shift workers are sometimes forced to stand for so long that their legs swell up.
The FLA found that all three factories exceeded both its own standard of 60 hours total per week and the Chinese legal limits of 40 hours a week plus a maximum 36 hours of overtime a month. During peak production periods, the average number of hours worked exceeded 60 hours, it said.
Its report, based on interviews with 35,000 workers, said Foxconn had made health and safety improvements but that more co-operation was needed from Apple to allow Foxconn to cut workers' hours without harming their pay. The companies said the three factories would be in full compliance with labour laws by next summer.
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