Just days after Apple CEO Tim Cook was seen smiling and waving his way through the factories of major supplier Foxconn as part of an extensive tour of China, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) released its report of the Chinese manufacturer’s facilities and working conditions, which found gross safety and health violations at the plants.
After the completion of a nearly month-long investigation, for which Apple volunteered, the FLA’s report reveals what it calls “serious and pressing noncompliances with FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct, as well as Chinese labor law.”
The FLA said it found excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation, several health and safety risks, and crucial communication gaps that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working conditions among workers.
Investigators from the FLA found that workers had little or no say in matters of safety and health conditions. The assessment suggested that if workers had more involvement with developing and monitoring health and safety procedures, many of the problems with implementation could be avoided.
The report also found that during peak production, the average number of hours worked per week at Foxconn factories exceeded both the FLA Code standard and Chinese legal limits. This was true in all three factories. There were also periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24-hour break. The root causes include high labor turnover, which undermines efficiency, and gaps in production and capacity planning.
The association has made a number of remedial recommendations to Apple and Foxconn, which pertain to resolving issues with excessive overtime, improving safety and working conditions, and ensuring that workers are paid a fair wage.
The report comes as Apple is actively seeking to address recent criticisms and protests that claim its products are tainted by the fact that they are made in what many are calling Chinese sweatshops.
Both Apple and Foxconn have agreed to remedy the problems noted in the report. Foxconn already has agreed to thousands of additional workers and has committed to addressing illegal overtime and improving safety at it factories.