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Labor group sees progress at Apple supplier

– A labor group monitoring three Chinese factories that make iPhones and other Apple products says once-oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work.

The audit released Thursday by the Fair Labor Association represents the final assessment in a process that started last year at plants run in China by Apple’s largest supplier, Foxconn.

Reports depicting the Foxconn plants as inhumane sweatshops prompted Apple Inc. to hold its foreign contractors to higher standards. The Cupertino, Calif., company joined the Fair Labor Association last year as part of a commitment to improve the situation.

Apple is the only major tech company in a 14-year-old labor group that also includes clothing makers, shoe makers and other manufacturers promising to curb abuses in overseas factories.

The report concluded Foxconn factories in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan had reached virtually all the goals set out in a plan adopted last year.

“We are proud of the progress we have made together with the FLA and Foxconn,” Apple said in a statement.

“Our suppliers must live up to the toughest standards in the industry if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”

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