Critics Say This American Life Retraction Doesn’t Clear Foxconn Of Worker Abuse


Foxconn iPhone assembly
A Foxconn assembly plant in China.
Photo: Foxconn

The China Labor Bulletin (CLB) has spoken out after an episode of This American Life, which highlights the poor working conditions at one Chinese factory, was retracted last week, making it clear that this does not clear Foxconn’s name. “The press and stock investors will continue to watch how Foxconn treats its workers,” the CLB made clear.

The episode, entitled “Mr. Daisey Goes To The Apple Factory” was debuted back in January, and became the most downloaded episode of This American Life ever. However, it was pulled last week after the show decided that parts of Mike Daisey’s report contained “numerous fabrications.”

Despite this, Foxconn is still under scrutiny from the CLB, which says the retraction isn’t enough to get Foxconn off the hook:

“The retraction has somewhat cleared Foxconn’s name, but not all the way. The press and stock investors will continue to watch how Foxconn treats its workers going forward,” said Simon Liu, fund manager and deputy investment officer at Polaris Financial Group’s fund unit in Taipei.

“Obviously, Apple is starting to take serious step asking Foxconn to properly treats its China workers,” Liu said.

Working conditions at Foxconn have been criticized for a number of years; long before Daisey’s report was broadcast. So it’s understandable that the situation won’t be forgotten now that this particular episode of This American Life is no longer available.

Geoffrey Crothall, a spokesman for the CLB, said workers are still subject to long working hours, abusive management, and unsafe work practices.

“All those things are very much in place. I don’t think there’s been any alleviation (of these problems) in the past few months. I don’t think Foxconn’s done anything, really,” Crothall said.

While Daisey’s report may have been “partially inaccurate,” according to The American Life, its publicity certainly encouraged Apple to take action against these claims and commission inspections of the Foxconn factories in China where its products are assembled.

Most of the report was true and corroborated by independent investigation, according to the show’s executive producer. But unfortunately, it seems parts of it were not.

Despite this, Foxconn has no plans to take legal action, but it acknowledges that the show has “totally ruined” its corporate image:

“Our corporate image has been totally ruined. The point is whatever media that cited the programme should not have reported it without confirming (with us),” said Simon Hsing, Foxconn’s spokesman.

“We have no plans to take legal action… We hope nothing similar will happen again.”

[via Reuters]