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Apple’s labour rights monitor finds little progress at Foxconn

30 December, 2013After three years of engagement at three Foxconn factories in China, the FLA has released its third and final verification assessment. Despite big promises to deliver labour rights improvements, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), tasked by Apple to remedy rights violations at its supplier Foxconn, has achieved little.

While the assessment points to some reforms – health and safety improvements and reduction of the working week (although not to the level of complying with Chinese law) – there has been little if any progress on key issues of wages and back pay. FLA had promised that compensation would increase sufficiently to offset any reduction in overtime hours and that workers would receive compensation for the vast amounts of unpaid overtime they had already done. In addition, a study would be done to determine the amount of compensation necessary to provide for the basic needs of workers. Yet this third and final assessment report does not mention any of these promises.

Critically, the report confirms that there has been no further progress on union elections and fails to address the fundamental problem of the majority of union leaderships in all factories being composed of managers.

Overtime hours continue to violate Chinese law, despite promises that illegal overtime would end by July 2013. Foxconn does not even comply with Apple’s own weaker standard of 60 hours per week, which is well in excess of the maximum hours allowed by Chinese law. During the period July-October 2013, it is reported that 78 to 84 percent of workers worked hours that exceeded Chinese law.

The FLA also promised to look at additional facilities that together make more than 90 percent of Apple products, yet has only presented information from the original three Foxconn factories which currently employ fewer than one fifth of the workers producing for Apple. Numerous worker rights violations continue to be reported throughout the Apple supply chain.

Despite these failings, FLA still manages to give Apple a remedial completion score of 98.9 percent.

Reacting to the report, IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina said:

"This only goes to demonstrate how ineffectual and misleading company-driven auditing models such as FLA are. Promised compliance has not been delivered and labour rights abuses in Apple’s supply chain continue."