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Apple and Foxconn will share the costs of factory upgrades

Chinese assembler promises to improve conditions for workers
Thu May 10 2012, 12:48

CHINESE LABOUR SUPPLIER Foxconn Technology Group has sealed a deal with the Iphone designer Apple to share the costs associated with improving conditions for workers at its plants that assemble Iphones and Ipads in China.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou insisted that the Chinese manufacturing giant is working to improve conditions for its workers. "We've discovered that [improving factory conditions] is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told Reuters in Shanghai. "I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs." However the Foxconn chief did not disclose additional financial details of the arrangement with Apple.

The commitment comes after Foxconn promised to improve conditions at its plants, including cutting back workers' hours after a recent Fair Labour Association (FLA) inspection. As we reported earlier, this inspection prompted to company, which assembles devices for a number of firms in addition to Apple, to say that it will reduce working hours to "legal limits" without reducing pay.

It also promised to improve health and safety conditions for its million-plus workers, adding that staff would be given a "genuine voice" to make comments and complaints. The Fair Labour Association said that during its month-long investigation it found multiple issues at the company's factories.

"The Fair Labor Association gave Apple's largest supplier the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers," said Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the FLA. "Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly."

Foxconn said in February that it had raised wages for workers by 16 to 25 per cent, and in March it reached an agreement with Apple to engage new workers to reduce overtime work.

Foxconn has so far not responded to a request for comment. µ


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