The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has said Apple supplier Foxconn is now “largely complying” with a 60-hour working week standard.
But in its final report on working conditions at three Foxconn factories in China, the FLA said a target of full compliance with a Chinese overtime limit of 36 hours a month by 1 July had been missed, and the 60-hour week, an FLA standard, was still outside a Chinese legal limit of 49 hours.
Auret van Heerden, FLA president and CEO, said: “Foxconn’s compliance with the FLA working hours standard is a significant step in the right direction.
“FLA’s expectation is that Apple, working with Foxconn, will continue to rigorously monitor working hours to ensure that they comply with the FLA standard of 60 hours per week but also make progress toward the Chinese legal limit of 49 hours per week. We welcome Foxconn’s commitment to continue working toward achieving its target.”
Apple and Foxconn launched a 15-month action plan following FLA criticism of working conditions at three Foxconn factories in Longhua, Guanlan and Chengdu in the first quarter of 2012, and the FLA subsequently carried out progress checks with unrestricted access.
The plan included 360 action points and the FLA said at the end of the implementation period on 1 July 356 had been completed.
In a statement Foxconn said: "The results of that report demonstrate substantial overall progress by our company in carrying out the 15-month remedial program in many areas. However, we recognise that there is more to be done, and that we must continue to sustain this progress and further enhance our operations."
In reports for each of the three factories, which employ an estimated 170,000 people producing iPhones, iMacs and iPads, high staff turnover resulting in lower productivity and efficiency, labour shortages and wages levels were cited as reasons for long working hours.
In a statement Apple said: “We have already addressed 99 per cent of the FLA's recommendations and we continue to make progress through our own supplier responsibility program. Each year we audit hundreds of factories and empower hundreds of thousands of workers by training them on their rights and offering free educational opportunities.
“Apple has led the industry in addressing excessive overtime at Foxconn and other suppliers, reducing the average work week to 53 hours. That’s well below industry norms and the 60-hour limit established by our code of conduct as well as internationally recognized standards. We will continue to provide transparency by reporting working hours compliance each month on our website, and we are committed to reducing excessive overtime even further as we continue this journey with our supplier partners.”