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Fair Labor Association Offers Initial Impressions on Foxconn Audit as iPads Used to Collect Survey Data

With the Fair Labor Association's independent audit of Foxconn's manufacturing facilities for Apple products having been underway for several days now, Reuters reports on the association's initial impressions as it works to collect and analyze data on working conditions.


According to Fair Labor Association president Auret van Heerden, Foxconn's facilities appear to be "first-class" in comparison to the garment factories the association has typically monitored, with van Heerden suggesting that monotony and boredom associated with repetitive assembly tasks may be among the most significant threats to workers' all-around health at the facilities.
After his first visits to Foxconn, van Heerden said, "The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm."

He spent the past several days visiting Foxconn plants to prepare for the study.

"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."
The report notes that the Fair Labor Association has 30 employees on hand to conduct the audit, with Foxconn employees being surveyed for the audit using iPads to record their responses. Three separate Foxconn factories representing 300,000 workers are being audited over the course of three weeks, with 35,000 employees participating in the group's anonymous assessment surveys.
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
- their emotional well being
Apple CEO Tim Cook had much to say on the topic of worker safety during an interview at a Goldman Sachs investor conference yesterday, noting that Apple is working closely with the Fair Labor Association and attempting to be as proactive and transparent as possible in addressing the issues.

Top Rated Comments

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36 months ago
While it is encouraging to see americans worried about worker rights, and to see an american company go to such great lengths to improve working conditions at its plants in china, I find it baffling that the working conditions of Foxconn employees working on Apple products in China has resulted in public outrage across the country while our food is being picked by people in far greater oppression (often literal slavery) right here in our own country.

Where is the national news coverage and public outrage about farm worker working conditions in the United States?
Rating: 38 Votes
36 months ago

Sounds like detractors, OK, enemies, are grasping at anything to complain about Apple.

Still, any improvement is great!
I would not want a bored, alienated, suffering from repetitive motion employee not making sure assembly was correct (simply switching stations every day goes a long way).


I'm curious why everyone is singling out Apple when countless other technology companies use the same plant.

I'm also curious why when Apple actually does something while the other companies are still doing nothing, they STILL get criticized.
Rating: 20 Votes
36 months ago
Avoiding the politics, Tim Cook's word is rock-solid. No wonder Steve liked him so much.
Rating: 18 Votes
36 months ago

What I don't get is why people are not protesting against the clothing industry. Most brand name clothing is made in China with even poorer working conditions than electronics. These are the so called sweatshops.

I hope other industry leaders also start caring about the employees.

As far as the media goes Apple is good click-bait. If they wrote about some other tech company or clothing manufacturer no one would give a toss.
Rating: 18 Votes
36 months ago
That's surprising, since some media sites with no first hand experience called it a hell hole.
Rating: 17 Votes
36 months ago

It's very easy to impress someone when you know they are coming! BTW, why doesn't some of these audit fools actually spend at least 1 full week eating/living/sleeping in the same facilities that these people live in? Don't expect anything negative to come out in the open about these audits. It's pure Politics and meant to make Apple look good. The truth is these factories are the equivalent of modern day slavery and people spend most of the year inside them and that is why they kill themselves because they can't even see their families and they are probably not allowed to communicate with them either or their families are too damn poor to be able to afford a computer, internet access or even a telephone.

-Mike


Sad thing is, the media follow this post's logic. "Let's prove Apple doesn't care.:
Then Apple is first tech company to engage FLA. "FLA is meaningless and not to be trusted, no matter what the facts say."

Then Apple launches the largest audit ever conducted in any tech facility in the world and the naysayers chime in. "Well, the audit is flawed and you can't trust them; they're not living there a week, working by them" (as if ANY audit by corporate/government audits do this.

Then throw out some unsubstantiated hyperbole (ALWAYS attracts sales/ratings/hit mongers like:" they can't even see their families and they are probably not allowed to communicate with them either."

And make sure you don't compare; suicide rates with national or corporate averages in China; wage rates for unskilled assembly line workers, many of whom have never made this much money and are from rural areas (not unlike workers from Mexico who work for pennies an hour picking grapes, cabbage, berries while also doing housework for politicians who offer them protection as long as they don't get uppity).

And, for sure, don't think you can interest the media in these workers. It's too close to home. Better to go after Apple not altering the economic structure and working conditions a few thousand miles away where people fight for these jobs.

Sorry, we've got too many problems at home that need serious addressing before becoming messianic in converting other cultures, and maybe thousands of people who are making a wage for their families back home, would just as soon we not be their representatives. Apple has made a huge impact nd conditions have improved. Now how about the same thing in the US? Up to doing something about that, or just on the bandwagon finding fault with the big A?
Rating: 14 Votes
36 months ago

It's very easy to impress someone when you know they are coming! BTW, why doesn't some of these audit fools actually spend at least 1 full week eating/living/sleeping in the same facilities that these people live in? Don't expect anything negative to come out in the open about these audits. It's pure Politics and meant to make Apple look good. The truth is these factories are the equivalent of modern day slavery and people spend most of the year inside them and that is why they kill themselves because they can't even see their families and they are probably not allowed to communicate with them either or their families are too damn poor to be able to afford a computer, internet access or even a telephone.

-Mike


Mike, you have never been to China and see their factories. You are using your U.S. views to judge thing you only read about. I've been to China for almost 10 years and saw many much tougher working condition ACROSS all factories than what it is inside Foxconn. Get off your high horse.
Rating: 13 Votes
36 months ago
It always annoys me that when there is a report of suicides by Foxconn employees they automatically assume it's because of 'worker conditions'.

This completely ignores the myriad of other reasons why people kill themselves: Marital Problems, Relationship Breakups, Sexual Orientation Issues (in a country where it's illegal), Gambling Debts... the list is endless, and none of which have any bearing on where they work!

And besides, if anyone bothered to investigate the story rather than knee jerk react to sensationalist headlines, they would discover that the suicide rate in China is far higher than that for Foxconn employees - which means that you are LESS likely to kill yourself if you work for Foxconn than if you don't!
Rating: 11 Votes
36 months ago

I would not want a bored, alienated, suffering from repetitive motion employee not making sure assembly was correct (simply switching stations every day goes a long way).


Got to remember that most of these employees are uneducated talentless people. They don't have the skills to do much else. Is this really any different then working on any assembly line, anywhere in the world? Sorry but XYZ turning a screw on the production line for Ford or Chevy, is going to experience the same thing, boredom, and repetitive motion; alienation, I don't know.
Rating: 8 Votes
36 months ago

While I agree with you that there are all kinds of different reasons why people commit suicide and we'll never know the reasons for the suicides that Foxconn, when people commit suicide at work, it's usually for occupational reasons.


Don't these people live at work though... in dorms? Where the heck else could they commit suicide? I'm not trying to defend Apple by asking that (I actually think that sounds like a pretty miserable arrangement)... I'm just asking.
Rating: 7 Votes

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