updated 03:10 pm EST, Thu December 27, 2012
Apple triples 'social responsibility' staff
A new report by the New York Times suggests that working conditions at Foxconn factories have improved since a January piece in the paper helped trigger changes at the manufacturer. After media and public backlash, Apple and the Fair Labor Association began auditing Foxconn, finding problems such as excessive working hours and poor safety standards. Executives from Apple and Foxconn met in March, which led to reductions in worker hours and better wages.
The Times notes that new safety upgrades include things like automatic shut-off mechanisms and protective foam. The changes extend down to replacing plastic stools with wooden chairs, in order to prevent back strain.
Apple has taken several internal steps to improve conditions at suppliers. These include tripling its corporate social responsibility workforce, re-evaluating how it works with manufacturers, and even asking competitors to cooperate on reducing overtime in Chinese factories. The company is additionally reaching out to activist organizations it previously ignored.
In spite of this, Apple is opposing the formation of a Human Rights committee proposed by one of its shareholders. The company claims that the step isn't needed, as the company is "committed to the highest standards of social responsibility and human rights wherever we do business."