The Fair Labor Association (FLA) began auditing Apple’s supply chain today, including Foxconn factories, as part of Apple’s response to recent uproar surrounding working conditions there.
At Apple’s request, a team of labor rights experts led by FLA president Auret van Heerden began the independent inspections today at Foxconn City, a factory complex in Shenzhen, China.
The FLA will “interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The FLA’s team will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment,” according to an Apple press release announcing the audits.
The Foxconn plants, many of which have tended to evade Apple’s rules and audits, have pledged to cooperate and permit unrestricted access to their operations. Once the audits have been completed in mid March, they will be posted to www.fairlabor.org.
The press release said two of Apple’s other big suppliers–Quanta and Pegatron–would be inspected later this Spring. When all these inspections are completed, the audits will have covered 90 percent of all facilities where Apple products are assembled.
Since 2006, Apple has conducted its own audits, posting the findings at its supplier responsibility page.
Despite these efforts, Apple has taken a lot of heat over the past few years. For a history and listing of human rights violations at Foxconn check here. A recent New York Times article that helped catalyze the outrage can be read here.
Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his company’s support for workers rights in today’s press announcement.
“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”