Apple Inc. said the Fair Labor Association started audits of supplier Foxconn Technology Group’s factories in China, the first inspections of a larger effort to respond to criticism of conditions of workers making its gadgets.
The iPhone maker, which became the first technology company to join Washington-based FLA in January, said labor-rights inspectors started today at a Shenzhen, China, plant known as Foxconn City.
Apple came under scrutiny from human-rights groups after workers at Chinese factories owned by Taiwan-based Foxconn, its largest supplier, committed suicide. Besides joining the FLA last month, Apple released a list of its suppliers for the first time and disclosed instances of rights violations by some manufacturers.
As part of its assessment, the FLA will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management, Cupertino, California-based Apple said in a statement.
At Apple’s request, the FLA will also inspect Foxconn factories in Chengdu, China. Similar audits will be conducted at Quanta Computer Inc. and Pegatron Corp. plants later this year, the company said.
Apple’s shares increased 1.8 percent to $502.10 at 9:46 a.m. in New York. The stock rallied above $500 for the first time after a two-week gain spurred by the iPad maker’s first- quarter earnings report.
In January, Apple released a list of 156 companies that represent 97 percent of procurement costs, along with its annual report on factories where the iPhone, iPad and other products are made.
The FLA was set up in 1999 to monitor workplace environments globally in an initiative by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and its participants include Nike Inc. and Nestle SA.