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Wednesday, June 14, 2006, 08:50 am PT (11:50 am ET)

Apple responds to abuse claims at iPod factories

Apple has issued a statement in response to a controversial report regarding abusive working conditions within the facilities of some of its Chinese iPod manufacturing partners, according to Macworld UK.

Earlier this week, the UK's Mail on Sunday reported that the iconic digital music players are built primarily by female workers who labor 15-hour days and earn as little as $50 per week.

The report alleged that some workers are crammed into secluded dormitories of 100 people where visitors from the outside world are prohibited. Allegations of physical punishment were also made.

"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," the statement explains.

The company added that it is "currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China" and that "it does not tolerate any violations of its supplier code of conduct, which is posted online."

In the code of conduct, the iPod maker states: "Apple suppliers must uphold the human rights of workers, to treat them with dignity and respect as understood by the international community."

According to the Mail on Sunday, workers at E3 — a factory that produces the iPod nano — are allowed only "a few possessions" and a "bucket to wash their clothes." At this factory, work days are said to begin with military-type drills that take place on the roof.