Being on the urge after the Fair Labor Association’s report details “serious worker issues” in the company’s Foxconn factory in China, the Cupertino-based giant has announced that both it and the manufacturer will work together and hire “tens of thousands” of new workers in an effort to improve working conditions and “clamp down” on overtime. The moves come in response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of a U.S. company’s operations abroad. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent Fair Labor Association in response to a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.
“Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they’re teaming up to drive this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector,” FLA President Auret van Heerden told Reuters in an interview. The Apple-Foxconn agreement may also raise costs for other manufacturers who contract with the Taiwanese company, including Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon.com Inc, Motorola Mobility Holdings, Nokia Oyj and Sony Corp.
The FLA reports that it interviewed 35,000 workers at Foxconn factories in Guanlan, Longhua, and Chengdu. The largest of these, the Guanlan factory, employs 73,000 workers. Of the 35,000 people interviewed, the FLA reports that only 4 percent of them were under the age of 18 (16 is the legal working age in China). The FLA has secured a commitment from both Apple and Foxconn to change their practices by 2013 to be in compliance with both Chinese law and the FLA’s standards.