It seems that, recently, a week cannot pass without another controversy seeping out of the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu in China.

AppAdvice recently reported on life inside the Foxconn factories and it seems Apple is now also taking the reported plight of the employees there seriously. Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to all Apple employees at the beginning of the year stating that there would be action taken to protect the rights of their workers.

News has reached us today that it appears this was perhaps more than just lip service as the Fair Labor Association (FLA) will begin conducting audits on Apple’s suppliers, including the two Foxconn factories in China. What’s more, it appears that Apple requested this action.

Tim Cook said in a statement:

“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.”

If you are interested in reading the whole press release it can be found here.

The first inspection took place this morning, led by FLA president Auret Van Heerden, at the facility known “lovingly” as Foxconn City in Shenzhen. The inspections will involve the FLA interviewing thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management.

It will no doubt be a few weeks or months before any results from these audits are announced, but it will certainly be interesting to see what comes from this. What do you think of Apple calling in the inspectors? Is new CEO Tim Cook really looking to improve working conditions for his Chinese workforce or is this just an excercise in public relations genius? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

For my money I can’t see Apple requesting this if they had one iota of fear or doubt about what these auditors were likely to find, but maybe I’m just cynical. Whatever the motivation for the inspections I hope they, at the very least, make things a little brighter for the employees who work tirelessly to bring us these devices that bring so much joy to our lives.