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Apple's Foxconn factories have "tons of issues"

Just days after describing the iPad and iPhone factories as "first class", investigators have admitted things aren't quite so rosy.

Just a couple of days after describing the factories where the iPhone and iPad are made as "first class," investigators have pulled what sounds like quite a U turn, hinting that things might not be quite as rosy as they first thought.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is investigating working conditions at Foxconn's factories in China. The FLA's initial assessment was glowing, but now it's found "tons of issues," Bloomberg reports.

FLA chief executive officer Auret van Heerden said in a telephone interview: "We're finding tons of issues… I believe we're going to see some very significant announcements in the near future."

He declined to elaborate on what these findings were, or what the announcements could be, so we'll have to wait and see. The FLA will report its findings in the coming weeks, when Foxconn will be able to contest them or agree to comply. In a statement Foxconn said it was "cooperating fully with this audit and we will review and act on all findings and recommendations."

The company is under investigation after reports surfaced of poor conditions, industrial accidents (including explosions), and even workers driven to suicide. The initial findings described the factory as "tranquil," compared to a garment factory.

This angered one activist group, who lambasted van Heerden for speaking ahead of the official report. I'm not sure if they'll be happy he's spoken again so soon, even if he did so to seemingly curb his earlier enthusiasm. Yesterday Foxconn announced it had raised its workers wages by between 16 and 25 per cent. Call me cynical, but could that be an attempt to get people on side ahead of the publication of an unfavourable report?

Foxconn has been subject of controversy for a few years now, so it'll be interesting to see the results of this investigation. And transparency has to be a good thing. How do you think it'll fare? Let me know in the comments below, or over on Facebook.