Foxconn, the largest private sector employer in China, has been involved in a number of controversies over the last few years stemming from worker unrest and allegations of unfair labor practices. Last month, Foxconn temporarily closed one of its manufacturing facilities in the city of Taiyuan after a riot there. In 2010, Foxconn came under international scrutiny after a string of worker suicides at its plants linked to low pay and poor working conditions.
In January, Apple bowed to public pressure over working conditions at Foxconn and joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a watchdog group that independently assesses and monitors working conditions in factories around the world. Apple was the first technology company to join the group.
In March, the FLA issued its first report on Foxconn, detailing "significant issues" with working conditions at three Foxconn factories in China. The FLA said at the time that it secured commitments from Foxconn to reduce working hours to legal limits while protecting pay, improve health and safety conditions and establish a "genuine voice" for workers.
In August, the FLA published a status report verifying that Foxconn was honoring these commitments.
"Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made," said Auret van Heerden, FLA's president and CEO, in a statement. "We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program."
We can demonize Apple if we wish. Apple is just one of many US corporations that make TONS of profits based on near-slave labor.
Let's dissect the average engineer "uniform". Polo shirt, Dockers and Rockport shoes. You think the Sri-Lankan teen that stitches your Dockers gets 2 weeks paid vacation? How about the Vietnamese mother of two that crafts your Polo shirt while her 2 kids huddle under the sewing table - you think she gets time off for child care? Lastly, the poor saps in China that breath in large quantities of rubber cement to make your Rockports - you think they get medical checkups?
So blame Apple if you want... but the real person to blame is the consumer that tolerates bad corporate behavior.
Did anyone else notice that at least 3 workers in the photograph have their red safety glasses pushed up on their foreheads? Thus affording them no eye protection? (Maybe the person in the yellow suit saw them just after the photo was taken & fixed it.)
Apple/foxconn/ipad/iPhone is like DeBeers/blood diamonds/sierra leone.
Highly profitable, monopoly, cartel, questionable business practice, human rights abuses, and environmental damage.
Everyone is outraged, but we still buy diamonds and we still buy iPhones, and there is no regulation or motivation for Apple or DeBeers to change.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.