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Apple begins Foxconn factories inspections

Are "unprecedented in the electronics industry".

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Apple-fuelled inspections into the controversial Foxconn factories in China, where many of its products are made, have begun.

Last month Apple was accused of turning a blind eye to unacceptable working conditions at supply chain partners such as Foxconn.

A New York Times investigation featured a number of purported former Apple executives explaining why it is often easier to turn a blind eye to abuses at manufacturing plants such as Foxconn rather than attempt to make changes or switch suppliers.

The Chinese manufacturer has been at the centre of a number of recent controversies, including a report earlier this month that hundreds of staff working on the Xbox 360 assembly line had threatened mass suicide over pay issues.

Today, Apple announced that the Fair Labor Association will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple's final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple's request.

Labour rights experts began their inspections this morning at the facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.

"We believe that 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," said Apple boss Tim Cook.

"The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports."

Thousands of employees will be interviewed and working and living conditions, health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management.

Apple's suppliers have pledged full cooperation with the FLA. Its findings will be posted on its website from early March.

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