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Foxconn still flogging iWorkers, but more lightly

Fair Labor Association finds better safety, more loos, but also overwork

The Fair Labor Association's (FLA's) latest report on workers at Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, Apple's preferred source for many iThings, has found many staff are still working longer hours than is allowed under Chinese law.

The report (PDF) is based on audits of Foxconn plants in Guanlan, Longhua and Chengdu. The report was compiled after visits to those plants between January 15th and 25th, 2013, and says the methodology for its assessments meant “ assessors also conducted a walk-through of the facilities, examined records, and held interviews with management and workers.”

Assessors found many improvements to working conditions, including “enforcement of ergonomic breaks, changing the design of workers’ equipment to guard against repetitive stress injuries, updating of maintenance policies to ensure equipment is working properly, and testing of emergency protective equipment like eyewashes and sprinklers.”

Work on extra toilets and fire escapes has commenced, and should be completed by August 2013.

An insight into the nature of Chinese Communism can also be found in the report's “notable increases in the participation of workers in union committees and a corresponding decline in management participation in such committees”. And there we were thinking that a Communist country would have lots of workers on union committees! Silly us.

Use of interns has also fallen to a point at which the FLA is happy Foxconn has met targets set last year.

Long working hours are still a problem. Apple and Foxconn have said they'll aim for forty hour weeks, plus up to nine hours overtime. The FLA report says many workers are still clocking up 60 hour weeks and labels working hours “the most challenging action item” on its list of things for Foxconn to do.

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