While Apple recently took criticism regarding the working conditions at iPad and iPhone manufacturing plants in China, the head of a non-profit investigative group says the plants are better than many other garment factories and other facilities in the country.

Auret van Heerden, president of the Fair Labor Association, recently talked to Reuters about a recent trip to the Foxconn factory floor. And he painted a different picture than what was reported by Mike Daisey on his trip to one of the Foxconn facilities.

“I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory,” he said. “So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.”

After Apple announced membership in the organization in January, the FLA is about to begin a study of Apple’s top eight suppliers in China. Along with well-known Foxconn, the FLA will visit other suppliers including Quanta Computer Inc, Pegatron Corp and Wintek Corp., among others.

Around 30,000 workers at two different Foxconn plants will answer anonymous questions for the survey. Questions will include: how the workers were hired, if they were paid a fee, if they were offered and signed contracts, and whether they understood them, the condition of their dorm rooms and food, if complaints are acted upon, and their emotional well being.

An interim report will be made public in March while the final edition will identify how manufacturers can improve.

What do you think about the FLA president’s statement? Are you glad Apple is paying attention to the conditions for workers that will make your next iDevice?