February 20, 2012
Apple’s Foxconn Factory ‘Better Than Norm’
According to the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the controversial Foxconn factory in China has better working conditions than other facilities in the country.
The FLA studied Apple's top eight suppliers in China after media reports of worker suicides, a plant explosion, and slave-like conditions were exposed at Foxconn Technology Group.
Auret van Heerden, president of the FLA, said that boredom and alienation could have contributed to the stress that led some workers to commit suicide.
The FLA will investigate facilities of Quanta Computer Inc., Pegatron Corp., Wintek Corp. and other suppliers.
Heerden said after his visits to Foxconn that he found "the facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm."
"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he told Reuters. "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."
Over the next three weeks, about 35,000 workers will be interviewed and asked questions anonymously, including the condition of their dorm rooms and their emotional well being.
They will also be asked how they were hired, and if they were offered and signed contracts upon hiring.
FLA said that an interim report will be made public on the Chinese factory sometime in March.
“Foxconn is cooperating fully with this audit and we will review and act on all findings and recommendations,” Foxconn said in a statement. “This is a very professional and thorough review and any deficiencies the FLA might find in the implementation of customer or Foxconn policies will be addressed.”
Apple commissioned the FLA to carry out smaller projects in the past two years to try out some of the inspection techniques used by the group to more effectively determine problems.
Heerden said he was impressed with Apple and Foxconn's responses to hazards related to the polishing of aluminum, which led to the explosions at one plant.
Heather White, the founder of Verite, another monitoring group, told Bloomberg that it will be hard to get workers to speak honestly about their working environment.
“It´s very hard to get people to speak openly about very serious issues,” she told the news agency.
She said that group meetings at Foxconn's premises may not yield honest responses, and that it would be better to conduct them in a home environment or off-site locations.
Image Caption: Workers assemble and perform quality control checks on MacBook Pro display enclosures at an Apple supplier facility in Shanghai. Credit: Apple
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