After widespread accusations that Apple is profiting from sweatshop manufacturing through much of its Asia-based supply chain, the iPad and iPhone maker has reached a new labour agreement with Foxconn, the company that runs Apple factories in China.
Under the agreement, Foxconn has pledged to hire tens of thousands of new workers for its plants in China, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade workers’ housing and amenities, Reuters reports.
The agreement comes after Apple let the Fair Labour Association conduct an investigation of Foxconn facilities in China. It was billed as one of the biggest-ever inquiries into the labour practices of an American company’s operations outside the U.S. The FLA report found that all three Apple factories in China violated the FLA work limits, as well as Chinese law stipulating that workers can only be made to work 36 hours of overtime per month.
Speaking with Reuters, FLA President Auret van Heerden said the agreement will likely have far reaching effects. Foxconn employs 1.2 million workers and is the supplier for 50 per cent of the world’s consumer electronics, he said. “I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector.”
Still, some workers have complained about the deal, saying their incomes will decline due to decreased overtime pay. And China Labor Watch, a New York-based workers’ rights watchdog, told Reuters that “until Apple shares a larger proportion of its profits with its supplier factories, workers will receive the same pittance for a salary while working around the clock.”