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Apple sends independent inspectors into Foxconn factories

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Apple has begun to send independent inspectors into its Chinese factories, a release today states.

Apple's pledge to have its assembly line factories inspected by the independent Fair Labor Association (FLA) was part of its more rigorous Supplier Code of Conduct issued in January this year. It followed revelations about conditions in the factories – particularly at the Foxconn plants in Chengdu and Wuhan – from Radio show This American Life and The New York Times. Descriptions of deaths from explosions, suicides, child labour and regular 12-14 hour days put serious pressure on Apple to reform conditions at its live-in, gadget-churning mega-factories.

The first officials from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) went into the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen on Monday - a factory which has in particular been the subject of media attention after 90 workers climbed onto the company's roof and threatened to commit mass suicide earlier this year following a pay dispute.

The FLA will continue to check out Apple's Assembly line suppliers – Foxconn and Pegatron – in Shenzhen and Chengdu over the next few months.

Factories that supply parts for Apple products don't seem to be in the remit of the inspection.

A criticism raised by both The New York Times and the This American Life documentary was that announced factory inspections were ineffective because factory managers would prepare in advance to hide certain aspects of the factory – eg taking younger workers off the factory floor.

So we assume that although Apple has announced that these inspections will take place over the next few months, the exact timing of the inspections will be a surprise. ®

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