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Fair Labor Association Says Apple Factories Are ''First Class''

By - Source: Reuters | B 52 comments

Nothing to see here, apparently.

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it had requested that the Fair Labor Association inspect its suppliers' factories in Asia. The move followed heightened criticism over how these manufacturing plants were treating the people that were assembling products from numerous big-name companies, including Apple. However, despite reports of worker mistreatment, it seems the staff at Foxconn enjoy above average working conditions. At least, that's what the Fair Labor Association says.

Though the agency will not be releasing full details of its inspections until sometime next month, the FLA has said that the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China. Reuters cites FLA President Auret van Heerden as saying the conditions at Foxconn are "way, way above average." The head of the Fair Labor Association goes on to suggest that 'the problems' at Foxconn can probably be attributed to boredom and monotony rather than a high-pressure work environment.

"The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," Heerden said. "I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he said. "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."

Speaking of incidents of employees committing suicide, Heerden said that it's something Foxconn has been dealing with since the 90s. He says that the change from a rural lifestyle and leaving their families can be quite stressful for workers, and adds that the support employees need to help them deal with this drastic lifestyle change was not always in place because factories didn't initially realize it was needed.

Though the FLA speaks positively about the conditions at Foxconn, Reuters' report notes that FLA personnel used iPads during their inspections. In response to questions that the FLA may give Apple favorable reports, the non-profit organization said that the FLA system is "very tough" and involves unannounced visits, complete access, as well as public reporting. President Heerden dismissed the notion that Apple joined the FLA to counter the bad press regarding worker treatment. He said if Apple "wanted to take the easy way out," it could have chosen from a 'whole host of options' available.

The FLA will be releasing a full report on its inspections at Apple's suppliers and factories next month.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , February 16, 2012 10:21 PM
    Quote:
    the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China.

    There's your problem.
  • 22 Hide
    cee2cee , February 16, 2012 10:22 PM
    These inspections are not reliable. Everybody knows as soon as inspectors come, the Chinese factories put on a show for them and make everything seem nice while hiding the truth away. Obviously I'd trust anonymous workers actually there to tell the truth. After all, why would they kill themselves if they were just "bored"? Seriously Apple, nobody is deceived by this.
  • 22 Hide
    house70 , February 16, 2012 10:08 PM
    *checking brand new ipad* "yep, I do not see any problem here, moving on."

    totally unbiased.
Other Comments
    Display all 52 comments.
  • 22 Hide
    house70 , February 16, 2012 10:08 PM
    *checking brand new ipad* "yep, I do not see any problem here, moving on."

    totally unbiased.
  • 19 Hide
    freggo , February 16, 2012 10:19 PM
    "way, way above average."

    Well, it all depends now on what the '"average" is based on, now isn't it :-)

    It could be like saying we pay more than the average worker (in rural Kentucky) is making.


  • 24 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , February 16, 2012 10:21 PM
    Quote:
    the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China.

    There's your problem.
  • 22 Hide
    cee2cee , February 16, 2012 10:22 PM
    These inspections are not reliable. Everybody knows as soon as inspectors come, the Chinese factories put on a show for them and make everything seem nice while hiding the truth away. Obviously I'd trust anonymous workers actually there to tell the truth. After all, why would they kill themselves if they were just "bored"? Seriously Apple, nobody is deceived by this.
  • 15 Hide
    Unolocogringo , February 16, 2012 10:24 PM
    The FLA says nothing about actual working conditions. Just that working at Foxcon is better than working at other factories in "CHINA".
    They appear more like corporate PR personel.
  • 0 Hide
    Envinyanta , February 16, 2012 10:34 PM
    cee2ceeThese inspections are not reliable. Everybody knows as soon as inspectors come, the Chinese factories put on a show for them and make everything seem nice while hiding the truth away. Obviously I'd trust anonymous workers actually there to tell the truth. After all, why would they kill themselves if they were just "bored"? Seriously Apple, nobody is deceived by this.


    Given that the result is a factory that does better than other factories in China, is the Foxconn facility Apple uses the only one that 'puts on a show for inspectors'? Are all factories crap and Foxconn is the only one that cares enough to try and fake it? I don't doubt that there could be factors influencing the results and how accurate they are, but let's at least look at the whole of evidence rather than trying to color it to fit a predetermined perspective.

    As for suicide for being "bored", the article references monotony and a sense of alienation as well, and then goes on to explain it being rooted in a vastly different lifestyle then when they were raised. Given that teenage suicide in America is often due to feelings of insecurity, alienation, and listlessness, it doesn't seem all that unreasonable. It's still tragic; but people kill themselves for reasons that feel like very big reasons to them, even if they're not.
  • 1 Hide
    jaguarmatt , February 16, 2012 10:42 PM
    Hmm, so I guess Apple refuses to see that this was JUST published less than 2 weeks ago?
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Apple-Foxconn-factory-iPad-CNN,14643.html

    Of course their workers are treated like property, and it's a terrible thing. Just because they're "better than other factories in China" doesn't mean crap. Let me know when you've got some real improvement Apple.
  • -6 Hide
    salgado18 , February 16, 2012 10:47 PM
    Quote:
    the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China.

    So other facilities in China use slavers? Sorry, couldn't resist...
  • 3 Hide
    gokanis , February 16, 2012 11:07 PM
    Fair Labor Association Says Apple Factories Are ''First Class''

    Fair Labor rep under apple reps desk: "Hows that?"
    Apple rep: "Nice, but a little to the left."
  • 2 Hide
    A Bad Day , February 16, 2012 11:16 PM
    Either the factories temporarily improved conditions seconds before the inspectors stepped through the door, or Apple is getting its gloves really dirty.
  • 11 Hide
    Shin-san , February 16, 2012 11:36 PM
    jaguarmattOf course their workers are treated like property, and it's a terrible thing. Just because they're "better than other factories in China" doesn't mean crap. Let me know when you've got some real improvement Apple.
    Not knocking you or anything, but I've been in a few companies where they refer to you as a "resource"
  • -3 Hide
    alidan , February 16, 2012 11:37 PM
    cee2ceeThese inspections are not reliable. Everybody knows as soon as inspectors come, the Chinese factories put on a show for them and make everything seem nice while hiding the truth away. Obviously I'd trust anonymous workers actually there to tell the truth. After all, why would they kill themselves if they were just "bored"? Seriously Apple, nobody is deceived by this.


    because that is your best option... if i lived in china and foxxcon was the best job i would kill myself too...

    i will never understand why people keep trying to apply a first world country pay and quality of living to an impoverished 3rd world country...

    i mean a sweat shop is bad, but its really the best option for them... the only way for them to have any quality of life. as long as people chose to work there, i couldn't care less about their complaints.
  • 3 Hide
    jaguarmatt , February 16, 2012 11:46 PM
    Shin-sanNot knocking you or anything, but I've been in a few companies where they refer to you as a "resource"


    I've worked at one company myself where I was treated like that. Over here, we have the option to seek other employment. We don't realize that others don't always have that privilege.
  • -1 Hide
    danny2000 , February 16, 2012 11:52 PM
    This organization is paid by the organizations that it monitors.....CONFLICT OF INTEREST!!!
  • 3 Hide
    razor512 , February 17, 2012 12:05 AM
    The reasons why the factories are so quiet is because you get fired if you get caught talking.

    Workers get lifelong injuries after a few years working because workers are required to constantly do the same thing until they get an extremely bad form of carpal tunnel that effects the hands to such an extent that they are often unable to do even basic things with their hands.

    The working conditions in the factory in china would lead to criminal charges if done in the US.

    But there is also the case that the workers are not being forced to work, they can quit at anytime. (problem is that it is still better than many of the other work opportunities available to those people
  • 2 Hide
    unther , February 17, 2012 12:44 AM
    I wonder how much apple paid for this report?
  • 1 Hide
    Khimera2000 , February 17, 2012 12:58 AM
    I don't want to know "how much better it is then the garment industry" I want to know if there operations can run with little modification in the US, without bringing down a rain of lawsuits, till then these people can say all they want. In my mind all this talk translates into is "Our slaves are treated much better then those others, so its ok... now here's something shiny to detract you"
  • 0 Hide
    kanoobie , February 17, 2012 1:01 AM
    The Fair Labor Association's initial response tells me more about their loyalties and nothing about the conditions in which these workers "live"/ [exist] in. Instead of subjective responses like the factories are "First Class" why not give an objective, unbiased assessment of the living standards in the factory?

    In the interest of addressing the issues that brought on the investigation, how does the Fair Labor Association propose to reduce the number of attempted suicides in the factories and how did it come to those conclusions? Namely, who are these "support employees" and specifically how would they help suicidal people cope with these undefined "lifestyle change" that rural people apparently can't cope with?

    My intuition tells me that instead of focusing their spending on "support employees" they should spend that money and then some on positive ways to impact their worker's living conditions (a tiny portion of this would include some counseling).

    If the suicides in the factory were a plea for change in the factory worker's living conditions, would insisting on half-measures or inadequate improvements by a monitoring agency be a criminally negligent act?
  • -7 Hide
    kanoobie , February 17, 2012 1:03 AM
    The Fair Labor Association's initial response tells me more about their loyalties and nothing about the conditions in which these workers "live"/ [exist] in. Instead of subjective responses like the factories are "First Class" why not give an objective, unbiased assessment of the living standards in the factory?

    In the interest of addressing the issues that brought on the investigation, how does the Fair Labor Association propose to reduce the number of attempted suicides in the factories and how did it come to those conclusions? Namely, who are these "support employees" and specifically how would they help suicidal people cope with these undefined "lifestyle change" that rural people apparently can't cope with?

    My intuition tells me that instead of focusing their spending on "support employees" they should spend that money and then some on positive ways to impact their worker's living conditions (a tiny portion of this would include some counseling).

    If the suicides in the factory were a plea for change in the factory worker's living conditions, would insisting on half-measures or inadequate improvements by a monitoring agency be a criminally negligent act?
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