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Friday, June 30, 2006, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple's says Foxconn investigation remains open

Contrary to reports published earlier this week, Apple Computer says its investigation into working conditions at Chinese factories that build its iPod digital music players is not over.

"We are still investigating the working conditions at Foxconn's manufacturing plant in Longhua," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told BusinessWeek. "This is a thorough audit, which includes employee working and living conditions, interviews of employees and managers, compliance with overtime and wage regulations, and other areas as necessary to insure adherence to Apple's supplier code of conduct."

On Monday, China CSR, a Web site devoted to promoting corporate responsibility in China, cited a Foxconn spokesperson in saying that Apple sent a special team to the factories to investigate but found no problems.

"Apple's supplier code of conduct sets the bar higher than accepted industry standards and we take allegations of noncompliance very seriously," Dowling added.

The ongoing probe is in response to claims made by the British publication Mail on Sunday, which earlier this month published a detailed report portraying some of Foxconn's manufacturing facilities as sweatshops.

For its part in the matter, Foxconn initially denied any wrongdoing. But more recently, a spokesman for the Taiwanese manufacturer conceded that the overtime hours demanded of its employees are in violation of some local labor laws.

In its take on the issue, BusinessWeek says Apple, which clearly wants to avoid such unpleasant appearances, should set an example for the rest of the world by taking some of its $8.2 billion in cash and building its own factory in China.