Apple Says It's Already On-Site Investigating Reports of Labor Abuse in China

Apple in ChinaApple Inc. responded swiftly to a new report of labor abuses in its supply chain in China, saying that it is already on-site investigating the factory in question. China Labor Watch issued a report on Thursday alleging a wide variety of abuses at a factory operated by Jabil Circuit.

"We take any concerns about our suppliers very seriously, and our team of experts is on-site at Jabil Wuxi to look into the new claims about conditions there," an Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD.

China Labor Watch is a watchdog group based in New York City that conducts its own investigations of labor conditions in China. The group has routinely criticized conditions in Apple's supplier chain, and in the new report, it said that the Jabil Circuit factory making Apple's rumored iPhone 5C has widespread issues.

The group said that abuses included, "over 100 hours of monthly mandatory overtime, three times in excess of legal limits; more than 11 hours of standing work every day with no rest outside of 30-minute meal breaks; illegally inadequate pre-work training; hiring discrimination; and more."

The group also directly criticized Apple's management of its supply chain, saying:

Many of the violations raised in CLW’s report also contradict the codes of conduct of both Apple and Jabil Circuit. Despite half a decade of outside investigations and self-reporting on myriad labor abuse throughout its Chinese supply chain, Apple has continually failed to compel supplier factories to conform to Apple’s code of conduct and local labor laws before giving these suppliers Apple production orders.

Apple is officially quite aggressive in its efforts to enforce local labor laws, and the company's Supplier Code of Conduct exceeds local regulations in many areas. The company has also reported significant improvements in supplier compliance with its Code of Conduct, but because of Apple's leadership in consumer electronics, it remains a prime target for groups like China Labor Watch.

Apple is planning its first ever media event in China on September 11th, just a few hours after a September 10th event to be held in the U.S. The announcement of the China event earlier this week could have been an influence in the timing of China Labor Watch's new report.

That media event—which is likely to include at least one top Apple executive, possibly CEO Tim Cook—could also have influenced Apple's prompt response. The company's significant statement emphasizes Apple's commitment to providing a safe and healthy working environment in its supply chain.

That statement in full, as provided to AllThingsD.

Apple is committed to providing safe and fair working conditions throughout our supply chain. We lead the industry with far-reaching and specialized audits, the most transparent reporting and educational programs that enrich the lives of workers who make our products. Apple is the first and only technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association, and we are dedicated to protecting every worker in our supply chain.

As part of our extensive Supplier Responsibility program, Apple has conducted 14 comprehensive audits at Jabil facilities since 2008, including three audits of Jabil Wuxi in the past 36 months. We take any concerns about our suppliers very seriously, and our team of experts is on-site at Jabil Wuxi to look into the new claims about conditions there. Jabil has a proactive auditing program of their own and they have an excellent track record of meeting Apple’s high standards.

Employees at Jabil are among the 1 million workers in Apple’s supply chain whose working hours we track each week and report on our website. Year to date, Jabil Wuxi has performed above our 92% average for compliance with Apple’s 60-hour per week limit. An audit completed earlier this year did find that some employees had worked more than six consecutive days without a day of rest, and Jabil has been working with our team to better manage overtime.

We are proud of the work we do with our suppliers to improve conditions for workers. Our program goes far beyond monitoring by ensuring corrective actions where they are needed and aggressively enforcing our supplier code of conduct wherever Apple products are made. We believe in transparency and accountability, both for our suppliers and ourselves.