Apple Says No Forced Labor At China iPod Plant

Investigation showed no forced labor violations, but weekly work hour limit was often exceeded and pay structure is too complex.

Apple Computer Inc. announced Thursday that an investigation into alleged poor working and living conditions at its Chinese iPod facility found it to be in compliance with the Supplier Code of Conduct in a majority of areas, but did find violations.

An audit team that included members of Apple’s human resources, legal and operations groups covered labor standards, working and living environment, compensations, overtime and worker treatment at the facility.

No evidence of child labor or forced labor was found, but the pay structure was found to be “unnecessarily complex.” Though the investigation showed that all employees earned at least minimum wage, with more than half, earning above minimum wage, the elements such as skill bonus, attendance bonus and housing allowance that make up an employees salary made wages difficult for the employees to understand. This is a violation of the Code of Conduct requirement that the pay structure must be clearly conveyed. The supplier is now instituting a simpler pay structure.

The Code of Conduct limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week. The investigation found that the weekly limit was exceeded 35 percent of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25 percent of the time. A policy change was enacted to enforce the weekly limit.

“We recognize that monitoring compliance is an ongoing process requiring continual progress reviews,” Apple said. “When violations are discovered in any supplier, we will require corrective action plans, with a focus on prevention and systemic solutions. We will also ensure that action plans are implemented and in cases where a supplier’s efforts in this area do not meet our expectations, their contracts will be terminated.”

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