5:51 pm March 29, 2012, by Christopher Seward
A major Apple Inc. supplier in China has agreed to improve working conditions after an independent U.S.-based labor practices group said it found excessive overtime and workers who weren’t being compensated fairly, among other things.
The agreement Wednesday by Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, China’s biggest private-sector employer, came as Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited one of several of Foxconn’s factories, which assemble most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
According to ABC News, Foxconn has promised to lower overtime hours without lowering pay. The result, however, could mean higher costs for not only Apple products but many other electronics.
The Fair Labor Association spent a month interviewing 35,000 Foxconn workers at factories and off campus as it investigated allegations of poor working conditions. The group said it visually observed working conditions and reviewed payroll and employee records.
According to ABC:
Workers’ hours and overtime payment issues are the main focus of the 13-page report. Within the last 12 months, at all three of Apple’s Foxconn factories — in Guanian, Longhua, and Chengdu — the average employee worked over 60 hours per week, the FLA found. The legal limit is 49 hours per week, including overtime.
“There were periods during which some employees worked more than seven days in a row without the required minimum 24 hours break,” the report says.
Computer manufactures are already trying to figure out the impact higher labor costs will have on other companies.
“If Foxconn’s labor cost goes up … that will be an industry-wide phenomenon and then we have to decide how much do we pass on to our customers versus how much cost do we absorb,” Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Meg Whitman told Reuters last month.
Are you willing to pay more for your smartphone or tablet if it means better working conditions and more pay for those who produce them?
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