Apple Computer Inc. Wednesday responded to charges over the weekend that a Taiwanese manufacturer of its iPod nano music player was running sweat shop-style factories in mainland China.
An article in the print edition of the London-based Mail on Sunday newspaper said that Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., better known by its Foxconn brand, pays workers at a Longhua, China, plant just £27 ($50) each month, about half what another electronics maker pays its workers who assemble other iPods.
The workers, mostly young women from rural areas of China, do 15-hour shifts, are housed in dormitories from which outsiders are banned, and regularly pay about half their wages for room and board charges, the Mail said.
Wednesday, an Apple UK spokesperson said the company was looking into the allegations.
"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," said Alan Hely in an e-mail to TechWeb. "We are currently investigating the allegations regarding working conditions in the iPod manufacturing plant in China."
Hely also said that Apple would not "tolerate any violations of our supplier code of conduct," which is posted as a PDF on the Apple Web site.
Since the iPod line was launched in 2001, Apple has sold approximately 42 million of the portable music players. The iPod nano was introduced in 2005.
The original Mail on Sunday story can be found on the Web site of the newspaper's sister publication, The Mirror.