Fair Labor Association President Says Foxconn Factory Worker Conditions Are Much Better Than Actual Sweatshops

Fair Labor Association President Says Foxconn Factory Worker Conditions Are Much Better Than Actual Sweatshops

As most recently referenced in Tim Cook’s comments on worker safety at Goldman Sachs yesterday, Apple is spending a lot of effort in 2012 trying to solve allegations of abuse in their supply chain. This initiative has most recently culminated in Apple going to the unprecedented step of asking the Fair Labor Association to audit their factories.

The FLA’s report isn’t due until March, but already, the Fair Labor Association’s president Auret van Heerden has spoken out, saying that at first blush, Foxconn’s facilities appear to be “first-class” in comparison to the garment factories the association usually monitors.

Reuters reports:

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 Fair Labor Association will be conducting their audit with the help of 30 staffers armed with iPads interviewing upwards of 35,000 Foxconn employees anonymously, asking questions from how the workers were hired, whether they understood their contracts, to how happy they were.

I have to say, I’m a little surprised by van Heerden’s open opining on how awesome Foxconn is compared to actual sweatshops before the audit is even really underway. It seems fairly clear to me that Apple does care about their workers — Cook’s remarks yesterday about how much time he had personally spent in factories in his life really seemed genuine to me — but the FLA already seems a little bit star-struck by all this. Will anything useful really come out of their report?

[via MacRumors]

  • turbohand

    File this under, “Duh!”

    All this hype over the standards at Foxconn is just silly.

    Do you think it was glamorous working in a huge refrigerator stocking sodas all day? No, it was cold and boring. I felt isolated from the people outside the cooler. However, it was my job. I didn’t think to blame the people buying the drinks.

    Every person who is making a big deal out of this needs to be smacked on the head. Perhaps twice just to make sure it sinks in.

  • ehutchins

    You do understand that the Fair Labor Association is an industry sponsored group including support by Apple itself, right? It is not an “independent” audit of the working conditions at Foxconn. You do read the news right?

  • joewaylo

    I think if they want a real independent study, they’d go undercover. Fake ID information, hired as an employee of FoxConn, get labored hard pressed to do their job, etc.

  • Adam Gillitt

    Reality: 1, Mike Daisey: 0

  • Mike Rathjen

    I listened to Mike Daisey’s show and this report does not conflict with it at all. He actually paints a fairly moderate picture of Foxconn and similar upper-tier manufacturers. The really, really bad problems do exist, but they happen at the lower-tier manufacturers.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Any audit and inspection paid for by Apple is, by definition, corporately sponsored by Apple.

    So they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  • ehutchins

    Um… Yes. Exactly. Unless its not paid for or “corporately” sponsored by Apple. In which case it would be independent. You know, as in not in conflict of interest. We’re not talking about an internal financial audit here.

  • sir1jaguar

    Imorons, istupids, izombies, and iturds…

    FLA was paid by APPLE…

    So, its not impossible their FAKE FINDINGS is favor to APPLE…

    SOMETIMES i feel and think, if i can kill many people – iFans will be first in line…

  • sir1jaguar

    You have the most valid suggestion…

    If they checked foxconn and its announced that they are coming, the management will teach the workers to lie and they will fix those reported bankhouse to be clean and neat.

    Its like watching a movie of lies…

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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