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Fair Labor Association begins Apple supplier audits at Foxconn in China

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13 February 2012

Apple supplier audit begins with Foxconn plant [China]

Author: Charles Arthur, Guardian [UK]

Apple has reacted to growing criticism over alleged abuses of workers at its suppliers by asking an independent group, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), to conduct audits of its "final assembly" suppliers...The first inspections began on Monday morning...The FLA will speak to thousands of staff about working and living conditions, payments, health and safety and the management style..."We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we've asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers," said Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, in a statement. "The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports."...Foxconn [part of Hon Hai], which makes equipment for a large number of...companies, including Apple, Amazon, Acer, Asus, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, has generated huge amounts of attention following claims of poor working conditions...Last week Apple faced twin petitions signed online by more than 250,000 people seeking assurances that the company would use "ethical, fair and safe" suppliers for the production of its computers, phones and tablets.

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13 February 2012

Critics Question Record of Monitor Selected by Apple

Author: Steven Greenhouse, New York Times

Apple’s announcement…that…Fair Labor Association, has begun inspecting its suppliers’ factories in China rekindled a debate over how effective the group has been in eliminating labor abuses…[M]any labor advocates say its efforts have barely made a dent in improving working conditions…Still, officials with the group…say it has helped ferret out some of the worst abuses, whether in China or El Salvador. Jorge Perez-Lopez, the association’s executive director, said it had made major strides, largely eliminating child labor at factories in China and Latin America...Critics argue, however, that the association and its corporate members should not suggest that its inspections are independent. “The F.L.A. does some good work, but we don’t think it’s appropriate for them to call themselves independent investigators because they’re in part funded by companies,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium…Mr. Perez-Lopez, though, said the inspections were independent, adding that the companies on the group’s board had no say in what factories were inspected or when. [also refers to Liz Claiborne, Ocean Sky, PT Nikomas, Nike]

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10 February 2012

Core values [China]

Author: Li Qiang, Director, China Labour Watch in South China Morning Post

Dear Mr Cook, I am one of the millions of people who use an iPhone every day...I find that the labour conditions in Apple's supplier factories are actually not the worst of the factories used by multinational electronics companies...Apple has done more recently to improve these conditions...However, there are still two big questions that Apple needs to answer...First, how can a company that claims to make working conditions a priority make such astronomical profits at a time when those making its products are obviously suffering?...Second, how can a company with as much control over its manufacturing process as Apple not know what labour conditions are like in its supply chain?...We believe that the answer to these questions is that the problem...is deeply rooted in your company's business model...We believe the most basic cause of the problems at your supplier factories is the low price Apple insists on paying them...Apple needs simply to share a larger proportion of its sizeable profits with the supplier factories it contracts with and, by extension, the people who make its products. [also refers to Foxconn (Hon Hai)]

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16 January 2012

China's Foxconn workers: from suicide threats to a trade union?

Author: Lijia Zhang, Guardian [UK]

[I]n Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province…up to 200 workers from the Microsoft Xbox production line of Foxconn (part of Hon Hai)…a major supplier of Apple…staged a strike...[and] threatened to kill themselves…In 2010…18 of their colleagues…did attempt suicide; 14 died. Some employees and labour organisations blamed a combination of factors for the workers' deaths: low wages, long working hours – sometimes up to 16 hours a day – and inhuman treatment...[However,] migrant workers [are] beginning to resist…This year, there has been a wave of factory revolts across six provinces in China…in southern China's Guangdong province…villagers staged well-organised protests…The intensive standoff ended…when top provincial leaders agreed to some of their demands...I hope China's leaders will really listen to the farmers, opening up more channels for them to express their grievances, and allowing some kind of independent labour union or at least a collective bargaining mechanism to ease the conflicts. And ultimately, they'll have to grant the same rights to those who make gadgets...[also refers to Honda]

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