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Report: Illegal overtime on Apple assembly line
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NEW YORK — Workers who assemble iPhones and iPads often put in more than 60 hours per week — and sometimes work for a week straight — in violation of Chinese law, according to the first independent labor audit of the Chinese factories where Apple products are made.
The report released Thursday by the Washington-based Fair Labor Association says Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese company that runs the factories, is committing to reducing weekly work time to the legal Chinese maximum of 49 hours.
That limit is routinely ignored in factories throughout China. And the FLA found that many workers at the Hon Hai factories want to work even more overtime, so they can make more money. Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, told the FLA that it will raise hourly salaries to compensate workers for the reduced hours.
“They’re often single, they’re young, and there’s not much to do, so frankly they’d just rather work and save,” he said.
Average monthly salaries at the three factories inspected by the FLA ranged from $360 to $455. Foxconn recently raised salaries by up to 25 percent in the second major salary hike in less than two years.
Workers who make Apple products have been the subject of increasing scrutiny, in part due to a one-man Broadway play by Mike Daisey. Public radio program “This American Life” used Daisey’s monologue in a show about Foxconn on Jan. 6, but retracted it two weeks ago, saying that Daisey had fabricated key parts of it, including that he saw underage workers emerging from Foxconn factories.
The FLA didn’t find instances of child or forced labor.
Apple has kept a close watch on its suppliers for years, and in January took the further step of joining the FLA. The organization has audited overseas suppliers for fashion companies and other industries, but Apple was the first electronics company to join. It also commissioned the FLA to produce a special audit of Foxconn’s factories.
“Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple’s supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits,” Apple said in a statement.
The FLA has its roots in a 1996 meeting of multinational companies and nonprofits convened by President Clinton, who challenged them to improve conditions for garment and shoe workers. Its 19-member board is composed equally of representatives from member companies, universities and nonprofits like the Global Fairness Initiative. The organization is funded by participating companies.
“The report will include new promises by Apple that stand to be just as empty as the ones made over the past 5 years,” said SumOfUS.org, a coalition of trade unions and consumer groups, ahead of the release of the report.
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