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Apple puts positive spin on worker conditions with Supplier Responsibility Report

"Requires our suppliers to uphold the human rights of workers and treat them with dignity and respect."

Apple has attempted to cast some positive light onto the ongoing concerns over the conditions of workers in its Asian supply chain by issuing a report focused on the improvements which the California company says it is making to lives and labour laws.

The report comes partly in response to recent scandals over working conditions in factories run by Foxconn, a massive China-based manufacturer which provides parts and assembly for many Western electronics companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

In June, 2010, Steve Jobs admitted to finding a rash of deaths and attempted suicides at a Foxconn plant 'troubling', promising to investigate and attempt to improve conditions. Prior to that, Sony, HP, Dell and Nintendo had all begun independent investigations into the deaths.

Highlighted in the report are Apple's attempts to offer free educational courses for employees and a drive to prevent under-age labour and extended working hours.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for under-age labour, and we believe our system is the toughest in the electronics industry," reads a selected highlight from the report.

"In 2011, we broadened our age verification program and saw dramatic improvements in hiring practices by our suppliers. Cases of under-age labour were down significantly, and our audits found no under-age workers at our final assembly suppliers."

Overall, the report lists a 74 per cent compliance with working practice regulations, with the most compliant category being the prevention of under-age labour at 97 per cent, and the lowest being working hours, where a compliance rating of just 38 per cent was achieved.

95 Facilities were discovered to be requiring staff to work more than the maximum 60 hour a week limit. The report also covers health and safety, environmental impact and ethical trading.

Last week, several workers at a Foxconn plant said to be manufacturing Xbox 360s climbed on the plant's roof and threatened mass suicide after a pay deal was reneged upon by the company.

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