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Apple-Approved Fair Labor Inspections Begin At Foxconn 334

redletterdave writes "Apple announced on Monday that the Fair Labor Association has begun inspecting Foxconn's Chinese factories, upon Apple's request. Apple said that Auret van Heerden, the president of the FLA, is leading a group of labor rights experts in the first round of inspections at the sprawling plant in Shenzhen, China, more informally known as 'Foxconn City.' The FLA's independent assessment — completely supplementary to Apple's own auditing practices — will involve interviewing thousands of Foxconn employees about the working and living conditions, including working hours, compensation, managerial issues, and health and safety conditions. Foxconn has 'pledged full cooperation with the FLA,' and will reportedly allow unrestricted access to all of their operations. The investigative team will report their findings in early March on the FLA's website. Apple's other suppliers, including Quanta and Pegatron, will be inspected later this spring. By the time summer rolls around, the FLA hopes to have covered 90 percent of facilities where Apple products are built and assembled."
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Apple-Approved Fair Labor Inspections Begin At Foxconn

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  • by noh8rz2 ( 2538714 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:05AM (#39029089)
    this is another area in which apple is leading all electronics companies in corporate responsibilities. All electronics are made in asian factories, but apple is the only company with balls to open the doors to visitors. Let's see the same for whatever droid / tab factories.
  • by spyder-implee ( 864295 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:11AM (#39029131)
    If apple is a leader in worker exploitation (and I'm not saying they are), they should also lead in cleaning it up. At any rate, which ever way the fanboys or haters spin this, I'm just stoked & hopeful that it will raise the quality of working conditions for the employees at Foxconn.
  • A facade really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:24AM (#39029219)

    The metrics of these audits will probably be carefully tailored. Make no mistake, this is not a true audit, it's a carefully choreographed public relations stunt in response to protests to save face.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:24AM (#39029229)

    You're not *that* naive are you?

    Maybe you have not been to a Chinese factory (I have), bu if you have you would know that this is just lip service. Apple is not opening the company doors either. All they did was hire a 3rd party to investigate. Foxconn agreed. That's it.

    Do you really think with all the media attention that Foxconn would say no? Of course not. They can't.

    However, they are Chinese. Trust me. The word is going around right now that they better look like some cheerful happy mother fuckers in front of the western investigators or there will be some real consequences. Not the standard ones, but some serious ones.

    Way too much on the line. Way too much. How many officials must be involved in greasing up that company's operations who knows.

    Corporate responsibilities? *snicker*

    You are just *too* cute. I wish I could go back in time where all this experience I have did not result in the cynicism I have developed.

    There are no responsible corporations. Just corporations doing the minimum to not get caught, and corporations that have not been caught yet.

    Every single device out there, regardless of which fanboi club it caters to, is made by manufacturing that is related to an awful lot of human misery. Unless you can say with 100% certainty that it is made in a developed Western country like the US, or some place in the EU, you can rest assured there was poor pay and poor working conditions. That's just life.

    It's not limited to devices either. Just about every product made in China is in factories with poor working conditions compared to the US and the EU. It would have to be. Otherwise it would be too expensive and it would just be made in some hell hole in another country.

    Sorry to ruin the illusion for you, but it's all pain and misery, all the way down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:25AM (#39029231)
    The workers feel it is a setup and if they respond negatively they will lose their job. Workers who do respond negatively usually do so to benefit their own agenda. The only part about it that 'works' is the consumer purchasing products with a 'clear conscience.'
  • by nhtshot ( 198470 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:00AM (#39029393) Homepage

    I've resisted posting on these threads because I don't want to start a war. However, I think it's finally time that I spoke up.

    Firstly, I live in China, speak Mandarin and Cantonese and build electronics among other things over here.

    I think this isn't a bad thing in concept, but everyone needs to get a little perspective on the issue. The educated workers, engineers and the like, are pretty well taken care of. They make middle class (for the region) wages, get weekends off and generally put in a comparable number of productive hours to US engineers.

    The factory workers, which are the ones that everyone seems to worry about also have it pretty good. They get company provided housing (no, the housing isn't up to western standards, but it's significantly better then where they grew up, I PROMISE). They also get company provided food (No, it isn't Ruth's Chris, but it isn't bad.. I frequently eat in the factory when I don't want to take the time to go out).

    Everyone is trying to apply western working standards to the workers over here. While I think it's great in principle, consideration has to be taken for cultural and lifestyle differences. Most of the people that are working in those factories came from a life of subsistence farming. They are also migrant workers. Their families live back in Henan, Hunan, Dongbei, etc... Most of them grew up in a single concrete room. They're quite lucky if their parents house had a flushable toilet.

    Making a thousand or two thousand RMB per month, having a decent bed to sleep in and 3 meals a day is a significant upgrade.

    With all of that said, I'm also a firm believer in giving them the opportunity for more. Everybody should have the chance to enjoy western working standards. But, it needs to be done in a patient manner. Expecting Apple to leverage Foxconn to give $10/hr and carpeted apartments to 200,000 workers is way out of proportion. Not only would it be prohibitively expensive, but it would screw up Foxconn's competitiveness.

    Remember, Iphones aren't the only thing made in Foxconn city. Hundreds of other electronics manufacturers make things there. If Foxconn doesn't stay competitive in Shenzhen, somebody will open a factory in Vietnam where they don't even have to feed their staff and pretty soon all of those people in SZ that everyone was so worried about will be out of work and back to subsistence farming.

    Let me repeat... I'm not opposed to this. A little external influence to help them move up the economic ladder is certainly not a bad thing. Neither are all the good intentions. What is a bad thing is expecting too much to happen too fast. China has advanced at it's own pace QUITE effectively in a single generation. We all need to bear that in mind.

    They have a long ways to go, but they've come a HELL OF A LONG WAYS from hole-in-the-ground toilets that don't flush.

    I'd say, we should all give Apple and Foxconn some credit for the 200,000 migrant children of farmers that now can feed their families back home and raise their children in better conditions then what they grew up in. Isn't that the "American Dream"? Giving more to your children then you had?

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:07AM (#39029435)

    We know Apple has taken some real steps, like bonuses for the FoxConn workers, that lead to the conclusion this is not wholly a sham. So why assume the whole thing is fake, and even if so shouldn't you be attacking companies with equal gusto that can't even be bothered to pretend to inspect anything?

    You can disbelieve all you like, but when you are covering for companies doing nothing you come off as more than a bit hypocritical.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:17AM (#39029483)

    You've got to be kidding. Have you had your eyes and ears closed for the last five years?

    Only someone who had both wide open would realize you whole post is pretty much entirely slander and lies.

    In fact the opposite is true, only Apple has shown they care whatsoever. And whatever you are typing on was made under far worse circumstances.

    If you had any ethics at all in regards to foreign factory workers you would buy Apple products when possible in support of the efforts they have made to improve labor conditions.

    But you don't really care about the Chinese, do you? - No, you just Hate Apple and want to see them die at any costs, even if it means unemployment for a few hundred thousands chinese workers. Having them starve to death is to your mind an honorable way to support your crusade.

  • by chaz373 ( 671243 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:17AM (#39029485) Homepage
    While Apple bashing is always fun, let us remember that Apple is not the only FoxConn client. So while you may revel in this negative publicity of APPLE, would you be as thrilled to hear that your Xbox 360, your PS3, your Wii, and your Kindle are also built at those same FoxConn factories? Whatever dirt is uncovered will not only tarnish the fruit company but also plenty of other tech titans from HP to Microsoft. So does your umbrage only extend to Apple Inc? My guess is that you will not be metering your indignation equally.
  • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:44AM (#39029639)

    I don't know why people keep talking about suicides at Foxconn factories, since the population of China has a higher suicide rate than the population of Foxconn workers in China.

    Foxconn employment correlates to less suicides, not more. You know what that means? I know you refuse to believe it because for some reason you've decided to have an irrational hatred for everything Apple, but Foxconn saves lives.

    Suicide is not something to be happy about, but let's be honest, it's just one more cause of death in the world. Some people kill themselves, and always will. There are far more preventable causes of death in the world, like say, starvation. How many Foxconn workers starve to death? How many of them would starve to death if they didn't have a job? Again, employment in a factory is better than unemployment.

    People freak out over suicide numbers at Foxconn facilities because they don't realize just how large these places are. These are massive, massive factories, and there are going to be a lot of deaths from a lot of different causes in any population of that size anywhere no matter what. What is important to look at is not absolute quantities, but percentages, and compare those to statistics for China as a whole.

    People target Apple because Apple is a big popular company doing a lot of business right now, but just about every major tech company you can name has their stuff made at Foxconn, or a similar company in China. This isn't some Apple problem, and yes, the reality is Apple is doing more than most of those other companies to identify and fix problems. Perhaps you should save your moral outrage for those big tech companies that are silent on these issues, or even better, the factories that have higher death rates than China's population as a whole (if there even are any).

  • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:57AM (#39029735)

    You can skew the number all you want.

    I simply stated straight up facts.

    Facts are facts, and the fact is that the conditions at Foxconn are bad.

    Yet the very suicide rate, which you brought up, disagrees.

    That you can't accept facts and instead cling to your beliefs irrespective of the facts is not my fault.

  • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:58AM (#39029737)

    These workers know their jobs suck, and they would gladly trade places with any western factory worker with their massive pay, massive pension, tons of benefits, and far higher standard of living.

    Of course, that same western factory worker's pay, benefits, and conditions is why it's so expensive to make anything here. Western standard of living and OSHA is why all the jobs are going overseas, because nobody here is willing to take a pay cut to keep their job.

    But the Chinese workers in these factories know something that some people here seem to forget, and that's a job is better than no job. These Chinese workers are working long hours in tough conditions because they are making pretty good money compared to their other options. They're working hard and making enough money to give their children a better life, so that their children, and their children's children, can rise up, get a good education, get better jobs, and live the Chinese Dream. When Foxconn expands their factories, they have more people lining up to get a job than people here line up to buy the latest iPad. It's not because they've been tricked, it's because poverty in China sucks a lot worse than factory conditions. They simply have no better options.

    We in the west should be glad Chinese workers are making pennies a day to produce our products, because as unemployment falls in China, Chinese living standards and working conditions will improve, just as the industrial revolution in western countries created the middle class, and created a living standard that's the envy of everyone in China. Someday, China will be losing jobs to other countries, because their pay, benefits, and conditions have improved to our standards, and they need to make all of their goods cheaply someplace else. It will not be because of magic, it will be because western tech companies created millions of jobs for Foxconn workers to do.

  • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @03:17AM (#39029815)

    I agree that these sorts of things are just PR stunts more than anything, and probably wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the media coverage.

    But let's consider the nature of that media coverage, to begin with. It seems that only Apple gets mentioned in Foxconn stories. In some cases, like this story, it makes sense, but most of the negative coverage of Foxconn only ever mentions iPads and iPhones.

    These are Foxconn's major clients:
    Acer Inc., Amazon.com, Apple, ASRock, Asus, Barnes & Noble, Cisco, Dell, EVGA Corporation, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, MSI, Motorola, Netgear, Nintendo, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, Vizio

    And yet, only one of those companies appear in every single Foxconn story. Hmm. If people defending Apple here are just Apple shills, what level of bias can we attribute to the negative stories then, in light of the fact Foxconn makes everybody's tech but the stories only paint Apple in bad light?

    Again, Apple's just doing what Apple needs to do, for PR. I don't think they're all a bunch of heartless bastards, though, any more than any other company. But the spotlight on Apple's relationship with Foxconn is a bit strange, since every competitor they have that I can think of is on Foxconn's client list.

  • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @03:30AM (#39029883)

    Again, this is a misunderstanding of Foxconn. These are company towns. Foxconn employees kill themselves at the workplace, because they're living in Foxconn dormitories. If you work, eat, sleep, and hang out on company property, and decide to kill yourself, you're going to do it on company property.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:14AM (#39030087) Journal

    Go fuck yourself. You're the one who has been abusive in your response to me every time, in every Slashdot article. I'm just tired of it and I have ran out of civility and patience for a complete asshole such as yourself.

    I can see that you're all stressed up.

    Why are you still posting in Slashdot if it gives you so much pain and stress, may I ask?

  • by Winckle ( 870180 ) <markNO@SPAMwinckle.co.uk> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:31AM (#39030143) Homepage

    Are you not familiar with the concept of wage slavery? That is what capitalism means deep down. When workers do not own the means of production they are forced to sell their labour to a capitalist who does. If they do not, then they starve.

  • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:24AM (#39030371)

    Just how low are you guys willing to go to make a point?

    Until it makes a difference.

    You may say someone is vulgar or 'low' for showing you a picture you don't like.

    Maybe you should look at the world we share, and how we share the world, instead?

    People don't like looking at pictures of the victims they're responsible for. It's one of the main reasons why victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are so seldom displayed in high school textbooks and museums in the United States.

    It's often called unpatriotic to look at victims. I say, we are cowardly to ignore the victims we create.

  • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:46AM (#39030473) Homepage

    would they have a better standard of living if they revolted an executed the current pack of leaders and executives.

    They tried that. Twenty million died, which is pretty typical for violent socialist revolution. I don't think risking it happening again is that brilliant an idea.

    Name the exploited labour market countries that have risen to first world status, zero.

    The UK. The US. France. Germany.

  • Re:Why China ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:47AM (#39030481)
    China is relatively stableat this point in time. Africa has been suffering brushfire wars and tribal rebellions for over a century now. It hasn't stopped, as tribe after tribe goes after their neighbors for injuries done generations ago. Ther's not a spot on the African continent that's been war-free for 25 years, not even South Africa.
  • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:06AM (#39031383)

    Shorter Rakishi:

    "Kenja was right and I was making a skewed comparison. Now let me distract from that with a combination of hand waving and a word salad......"

panic: kernel trap (ignored)