Foxconn, the company that manufactures Apple's popular iPads and iPhones, has made substantial progress toward improving safety and other working conditions at three of its Chinese plants dedicated to making Apple products. But it has not yet achieved the most difficult goal: reducing the average workweek to the maximum allowed by Chinese law, a global monitoring group said on Thursday.
The auditors, supervised by the Fair Labor Association, said Foxconn was still working toward lowering the average workweek to the 49-hour cap. And labor unions at the plants that are supposed to represent the workers' interests are still dominated by management, the association said.
Still, the average workweek has come down sharply from the typical 60 hours or more that has been common practice at the Chinese suppliers of Apple and other technology companies.
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Although the auditors declined to be specific about the length of the Foxconn workweek, Apple has said that it has been working to reduce the long hours put in by workers at its suppliers, which are mostly in China.
In a statement on its supplier responsibility Web site, the company said for more than a million workers in its global supply network that it tracked in 2012, "the average hours worked per week was under 50."
An Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, declined to discuss the specifics of the Fair Labor Association audit, which he said was done independently of Apple. Foxconn could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
But Mr. Dowling said Apple has been working closely with its suppliers and conducting its own monitoring to improve conditions at the factories that make its products, and the company has posted public progress reports on its Web site.
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Foxconn, part of the Taiwan-based company Hon Hai Precision Industry, employs about 178,000 workers at the three factories inspected. It has about 1.2 million workers at plants making products for Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Microsoft and other technology companies.