Inspections begin at Apple's suicide factory
AN independent group has begun inspecting the Chinese factories where Apple's iPads and iPhones are assembled, amid claims of horrendous working conditions.
The Fair Labour Association team began the inspections yesterday morning at Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China. The complex employs and houses hundreds of thousands of workers.
Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, employs an estimated 1.1m people. It assembles iPads and iPhones for Apple, Xbox 360 gaming consoles for Microsoft and other gadgets for companies including Hewlett-Packard and Dell.
In 2010 there was a rash of suicides at Foxconn's Shenzhen plant and managers installed nets to prevent more people from committing suicide by jumping from the roof.
A May explosion at the company's Chengdu, China, plant killed three people and injured 15. Foxconn has disputed allegations of back-to-back shifts and crowded living conditions.
California-based Apple has been conducting its own audits of working conditions at factories where its gadgets are assembled since 2006. A month ago, it took the additional step of joining Washington-based FLA, a group of companies and universities focused on improving work practices.
Apple, the most valuable company in the world, is the first technology company to become a member. It committed, at the time, to have the FLA inspect its suppliers, who have pledged full co-operation.
The FLA plans to interview thousands of employees at several Apple suppliers about working and living conditions.
The findings will be published in early March.