Apple supplier Foxconn agreed Thursday to reduce the number of hours it makes employees work and to improve conditions at its factories, according to the Fair Labor Association, a non-profit group that was auditing the Chinese company.
Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of iPads and iPhones, was at the center of a series of devastating articles that took Apple to task for profiting from an environment in which factory workers were saddled with excessive hours, chronic low wages and exposure to toxic chemicals.
A spokeswoman for Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the news comes a day after Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Foxconn's manufacturing plant in the city of Zhengzhou to meet with workers.
Cook hit back at reports of unsafe conditions at the company's global network of suppliers and has repeatedly said that Apple was committed to improving standards at all its partners.
The FLA said that its own independent investigation found "significant issues" with working conditions at three factories in China operated by Foxconn after a month-long investigation.
Among the issues it found were excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation, health risks and unsafe working conditions
The audit was commissioned after Apple joined the FLA in January following the deaths of workers at its overseas suppliers.
"The Fair Labor Association gave Apple's largest supplier the equivalent of a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours investigating three of its factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers," Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, said in a statement. "Apple and its supplier Foxconn have agreed to our prescriptions, and we will verify progress and report publicly."
The FLA is a coalition of universities, non-profit organizations and businesses committed to improving conditions for workers. The group said it will continue to monitor the manufacturer to make sure that the changes are implemented.
FLA's investigation found that within the last year, three Foxconn factories had workers putting in more than 60 hours per week, a number that exceeds the Chinese legal limits of 40 hours per week and 36 hours maximum overtime per month.
The FLA said that were periods in which some Foxconn employees worked more than seven days in a row without a day off.