At Apple's request, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) will begin conducting audits of the company's assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. The first inspections began this Monday morning, led by FLA president Auret van Heerden, at the facility known as Foxconn City in Shenzhen. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement that "we believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we've asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers."
This investigation comes after several weeks of intense scrutiny from the media and public on labor practices at Foxconn; Cook had previously expressed "outrage" over a New York Times report on worker conditions in China and had vowed not to "turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain." Of course, this is just the latest round of scrutiny that Foxconn and Apple have come under — the media has been reporting on suicides and other poor working conditions at Foxconn over the last several years, but it's good to see Apple taking steps to address these issues. The FLA will be turning around a report fairly quickly, with initial findings and recommendations planned for release on its website in early March. Foxconn isn't the only factory under scrutiny, as well: more inspections will be conducted at Quanta and Pegatron facilities later in the spring. When all is said and done, the FLA will have reviewed more than 90 percent of Apple's manufacturing facilities — the question now is what will Apple change in response to these reports.