The Fair Labor Association is investigating working conditions at manufacturing plants in China, many of which make products for Apple, the company announced Monday. Apple requested the investigation after its Chinese Foxconn plants were criticized for creating an allegedly dangerous environment for workers.
FLA worker’s rights experts began their inquiry at a plant in Shenzhen, China known as Foxconn City. The Shenzhen plant employs at least 230,000 Chinese workers. Many of those workers earn less than $17 a day and at least one-fourth of them live in company housing, according to The New York Times.
Reports of terrible living, poor working conditions, employee accidents and suicides at Chinese plants have plagued Apple over the past few months. Last week, fair-labor organizers delivered 250,000 signatures protesting the labor conditions at Apple manufacturing partners in China to the company.
Apple has recently been making moves toward more transparency in its manufacturing processes, listing its foreign suppliers by name for the first time in January.
Apple asked for the FLA investigation to “independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said CEO Tim Cook in a statement.
According to that statement, the FLA will interview thousands of employees about health and safety conditions, pay, working hours and their relationship with plant managers. It will also investigate the plant itself, the workers’ living spaces and documents about workers kept by management.
Apple’s suppliers, including Foxconn, have pledged “full cooperation” with the investigations.
The FLA is a non-profit labor rights group started in 1999 to end sweatshops around the world. It was created out of a 1996 White House initiative to monitor sweatshop labor practices. For a company to join the FLA, it must undergo a two- to three-year review process. Apple was admitted last month.
Results of the inspection will be available on the FLA’s website in early March.
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