Tech giant Apple has long resisted inspections of its manufacturing facilities, but in response to growing criticism of the conditions at its Chinese factories, the company joined labor group Fair Labor Association a month ago.
And according to Bloomberg, the Fair Labor Association began its inspection of Apple’s Foxconn Technology plants in China on Monday. Apple said in a statement that the Association plans to interview employees about working and living conditions, including compensation for health and safety, working hours and how they communicate with management.
USA Today reported that a review of Apple’s Chinese factories in January found matters such as underage and involuntary workers and workers putting in over-60-hour weeks.
Apple has requested that the FLA also conduct audits of Apple facilities run by Quanta and Pegatron, where most of the iPhones, iPads and other devices are manufactured. The group’s findings and recommendations will be posted in early March on their Web site, fairlabor.org.
Spokesman for the FLA Aaron Pickering said that his group conducts unannounced inspections and agrees to full disclosure of their findings, according to the Los Angeles Times. If a company does not meet the fair labor criteria of its membership, it may be put on 90-day "special review," and possibly expelled from the Association.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said, according to the New York Times, “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is the reason we’ve asked the F.L.A. to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.”
According to Mail Online, China Labor Watch, a group for Chinese workers, said Apple is just trying to rebuild its positive image. The group recently wrote an open letter to Cook demanding Apple to accept lower profits so the manufacturers can raise wages, hire more employees, and make safety improvements.
The company recently announced record setting profit margins.
Wayne Rash of eweek.com, who had been an inspecting officer in the U.S. Navy, believes foreign auditors will not find any major violations. During the inspectors’ visit, he says, factory managers will follow and enforce specified safety and workplace rules, and coach employees on exactly what to say.