The first reactions by human rights groups to the Fair Labor Association’s independent audit of Foxconn factory working conditions are in, and there is cautious optimism that the widescale abuse of Chinese factory workers may be on the cusp of coming to an end. But that’s only if the rest of the tech industry follows Apple’s lead.
One group pleased with the new report is Human Rights First, an independent advocacy organization that aims to make Americans live up to the founding father’s ideals when it comes to freedom.
Describing the FLA’s report as groundbreaking, Human Right’s Meg Roggensack said: “[This agreement] will safeguard the health and welfare of the comapny’s employees by bringing their work conditions into compliance with basic human rights standards.”
But only if it’s followed.
“The key to the report’s success, however, will be implementation of this agreement,” cautioned Roggensack. “Talk is cheap. The steps needed to protect workers in Apple’s supply chain may not be.”
Furthermore, it’s not just Apple’s supply chain. Every major company in tech — including Dell, Amazon, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and more — uses parts, components and manufacturing from Foxconn. If they don’t also look out for the people working in their supply chain, nothing will change.
“All companies that do business with Foxconn, the largest employer in China, should take immediate steps to follow Apple’s lead and insist that working conditions in every one of the company’s factories meet this new industry standard,” Roggensack concluded. “Companies have a responsibility to face the grim reality of current production practices and must commit to reversing them, so that their products are – not just in technical, but in human terms – ‘insanely’ great.”