Apple promises investigation into Chinese factories

The feelgood factor involved in unwrapping a new product from Apple may be dimmed slightly after the Mail on Sunday published a report of its investigations at iPod manufacturing plants in China where workers allegedly toil for up to 15-hours a day for just £27 a month.

The Mail reporters visited two sites in China, one near Hong Kong and one near Shanghai to see how workers are treated. One factory is said to operate with 200,000 workers who live in dormitories on site.

The article detailed how workers at the factory near Shanghai, operated by Asustek, have 12 hour shifts and "their only freedom is the half-hour walk to and from work".

The company allegedly employs mostly women because it believes they are more honest than male workers.

The reporters also broke down the cost of manufacturing an iPod nano, which is about £41, to compare it to the retail price of between £109 and £179.

In a statement from Apple to Pocket-lint, the company says, "Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible".

"We are currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China. We do not tolerate any violations of our supplier code of conduct posted at apple.com/environment."

Apple's code, according to the company's website, says "Where laws and regulations do not provide adequate controls, we will adopt our own standards to protect human health and the environment".

The code also states that suppliers may not discriminate when hiring workers, which Asustek, if the Mail on Sunday's report is accurate, is disregarding when predominantly staffing its factories with women.