Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive said: “Workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we”ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.”
The inspections are currently underway and are said to be unprecedented in the electronics industry.
The FLA”s president Auret van Heerden will lead the investigations which will see employees interviewed at Foxconn”s large factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu. According to Apple the results of these inspections will be released in early March.
Other inspections will take place at factories run by Quanta and Pegatron later this year. In total, the audit will cover suppliers responsible for 90% of Apple products.
The decision to launch the investigation follows extensive criticism of the company and the poor working conditions workers employed by its suppliers are said to endure, accusations which have said to deeply upset the board at Apple.
In May 2011, two people were killed after an explosion at a plant in Chengdu. In June, after several suicides, Foxconn installed suicide nets to factory living-quarters at its Shenzhen factory. Another Apple supplier, Wintek, came under heavy scrutiny when 137 workers in eastern China were injured after they used a poisonous chemical – n-hexane – to clean iPhone screens.
Apple said it has audited every final assembly factory in its supply chain since 2006, however a New York Times investigation noted that the audits had also uncovered cases of under-age working and staff being paid less than the minimum wage.