Apple and Foxconn/Hon Hai improve worker conditions

Apple and Foxconn have agreed to improve wages and working conditions at factories accused of being sweatshops.

Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai,  will hire tens of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade worker housing and other amenities.

Apparently this is in response to a probe by the independent Fair Labor Association (FLA) after years of criticism that its shiny toys were built from the blood of mistreated Chinese workers.

The FLA had a look at three Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers, and said it had unearthed multiple violations of labour law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime.

This is despite the fact that the tame Apple press has been running lots of stories claiming that there was nothing wrong at the Foxconn plant and that the bloke who made the claims in his stage show has admitted that he made it up.

However, the agreement will have set a new bar for Western companies who want to build their products on the cheap.

FLA President Auret van Heerden told Reuters that Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they’re teaming up to drive this change, they set the bar for the rest of the sector.

The deal may also raise costs for other manufacturers who contract with the Taiwanese company, including Dell, HP, Amazon.com, Motorola Mobility and Nokia.

It could also mean more work for less expensive contract manufacturers.

There is a theory that if Foxconn increases prices, Amazon could go to other major contract manufacturers like Quanta, Wistron, Pegatron or Inventec.