Apple and Foxconn Make Progress on Working Conditions at Factories

Image credit: ABC News

Are things getting better for the Chinese workers who assemble iPads and iPhones for Apple? Back in March, the Fair Labor Association released a report on the poor conditions at Apple's Foxconn supplier. The organization gave a long list of recommendations to Apple and Foxconn, and both Apple and Foxconn agreed to follow them.

Today, five months later, the FLA says that that Foxconn has completed 280 action items on time or ahead of schedule.

"Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made," Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, said in a statement. "We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program."

Apple and Foxconn made a number of physical changes in the last few months to improve worker safety, including more testing of equipment and changes to prevent repetitive stress injuries. A detailed report of the improvements is posted on the FLA site.

Foxconn also took steps to improve working hours, but it still has not reached the final goal. By July 1, 2013, Foxconn has promised to reduce worker hours to the legal limit of 49 hours per week and stabilize pay. Foxconn has already reduced the workload to under 60 hours per week.

"The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers," van Heerden said. Making changes to the working hours are among the 76 remaining action items that Foxconn has to accomplish before next July.

"In addition to this ambitious project with the FLA, we've been making steady progress in reducing excessive work hours throughout our supply chain," Apple spokesperson, Steve Dowling, told ABC News. "We track working hours weekly for over 700,000 workers and currently have 97% compliance with the 60-hour maximum workweek specified in our code of conduct."

Apple was reported to have become history's most valuable company Monday, though the numbers did not account for inflation. It has sold approximately 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads in the last three months of last year.