Outsourcing has allowed Apple to sometimes rank as the most profitable company in the world, but factories in China continue to drive criticism.

A group called China Labor Watch says conditions at factories operated by one of the company’s manufacturing partners, Pegatron, are even worse than those attributed to the better known Foxconn. Like many technology companies, Apple doesn’t build most of its own products, instead relying on suppliers and assemblers, which typically can be found abroad and typically operate with razor thin margins.

Apple says it has been cooperating with China Labor Watch and has dispatched investigators to look into the latest allegations, which include long hours and bad working conditions.

According to the BBC, Pegatron is also investigating the accusations.

One of the most famous attacks on Apple’s abuse of labor in China turned out to be based on false and even fabricated information. The radio show “This American Life” once aired an extended excerpt of the intense, emotional monologue written and performed by Mike Daisey. The show later spent an entire episode, called “Retraction,” investigating the erroneous nature of some of Daisey’s claims against Apple.

Nonetheless, the abuse of workers in China and elsewhere is well understood by the public and may finally be having an impact on companies that do dirty work abroad. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared at President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address as part of a very public announcement that the company would be manufacturing its new Mac Pro in the United States. Likewise, Motorola ran ads on the Fourth of July bragging that its new flagship Moto X phone would be built in Texas. (Motorola is now owned by Google.)

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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