Apple CEO Addresses Factory Conditions in China

Not all countries have strict labor regulations like the US. An independent watchdog group, the Fair Labor Association, announced on Monday that they began an audit on labor conditions in Apple’s manufacturing plants in China. There has been growing public concern about the conditions in factories where many US companies outsource the manufacturing of their products. One such plant, Foxconn in Shenzhen, China, has been under the microscope lately for an array of violations, including illegal amounts of overtime and unsafe working conditions.

To further fuel the fire, Apple’s annual “supplier responsibility” report enumerated over two-dozen “core violations” of labor and human rights committed by Apple’s major subcontractors. These core violations included underage labor and paying excessive recruitment fees to labor agencies.

Another serious violation involves factories conducting pregnancy tests and not having policies and procedures that prohibit discriminatory practices based on pregnancy. These procedures are in direct violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which prohibits employers from discriminating against a person “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” 42 USC 21§ 701(k).

In response to these violations, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said that Apple is “determined to drive widespread change,” but has not enumerated how expects to effectuate the change.