Apple's biggest supplier, Hon Hai -- better known as Foxconn -- is continuing to break Chinese labor laws, according to a newly-published audit by the Fair Labor Association. The latest evaluation was conducted in January, and did find that Foxconn is complying with 98.3 percent of the 360 points of action the FLA and Apple initially agreed to. 70 out of 76 items that were pending in mid-2012 have been complied with.
The major remaining problem is that Foxconn is continuing to break laws regarding working hours, which stipulate that a person work no more than 40 hours per week plus a maximum 36 hours of overtime per month. The January audit
found that at three factories, people were typically working between 40 and 60 hours every week. At one of those facilities, hours reached as high as 70 per week during two weeks in September and one in October. The excessive overtime coincided with the launch of the iPhone 5.
Apple's own supplier code requires that factories keep hours no higher than 60 per week. A spokesman states that the company is continuing to work with the FLA, and is also collecting its own data. Apple and Foxconn have agreed to comply with overtime laws by July 2013.
The FLA meanwhile notes that Foxconn has been making progress with union representation. Before the FLA got involved, most of Foxconn's union committees were dominated by management, rendering them useless. In the new audit, the FLA says that worker representation has increased by roughly 20 percent to just under 40 percent. "By this time next year, we expect worker participation to be even higher," states FLA CEO Auret van Heerden. It's unclear to what extent management might still be intimidating union members.