Apple Probe: China Factory Overtime 'Excessive'
An inquiry into alleged sweatshop conditions in Chinese factories that make Apple gadgets has found improvement, but there are still concerns about excessive working hours.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) released its findings after being tasked by the California-based tech giant with looking into allegations about the plants run by its largest supplier, Foxconn.
Problems that were previously identified included students on internship programmes being forced to work long hours on overnight production shifts, high numbers of suicides and industrial unrest among employees.
The report concluded Foxconn factories in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan had reached virtually all the goals they were set.
Apple said in a statement: "We are proud of the progress we have made together with the FLA and Foxconn,
"Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple."
Excessively long working hours remain a problem, however.
The FLA said more than half of the 170,000 employees at the Foxconn factories exceeded China's legal limit of 36 monthly overtime hours from March through October.
Foxconn plants in Longhua and Chengdu consistently limited workers' time on the clock below 60 hours per week during the review period, according to the FLA.
That met the labour group's standards but surpassed China's legal limit of 49 hours per week.
Apple said it had reduced excessive overtime at Foxconn and other suppliers, cutting the average working week to 53 hours, which the company said was well below industry norms.
"We will continue to provide transparency by reporting working-hours compliance each month on our website and we are committed to reducing overtime even further," Apple said.
Foxconn's progress was "a significant step in the right direction," said FLA president Auret van Heerden.
Even as conditions at the Foxconn factories plants improve, there are recurring complaints about abuses at other Chinese facilities that make Apple products.
The charity China Labor Watch said in a recent report that it uncovered a wide range of violations during an examination of factories in Shanghai and Suzhou run by Apple contractor Pegatron Corp.
The alleged problems included sexual discrimination, excessive working hours, poor living conditions and pollution.