Apple, responding to tremendous criticism regarding its assembly partner Foxconn, announced that Fair Labor Association audits are now under way.
Apple has been asked to behave like an industry leader and
has responded in kind. On Feb. 13, the iPhone maker announced that, at Apple's
request, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) will conduct voluntary audits of
Apple's assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and
Chengdu, China. The first inspections began the same morning, at "Foxconn
City" in Shenzhen.
We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe
and fair work environment, which is why weve asked the FLA to independently
assess the performance of our largest suppliers, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a
statement. The inspections now under way 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.
The announcement follows a number of reportscoming just
weeks before the iPad 3's expected introductionrevealing harsh worker
conditions at the Foxconn factories, which
have led to petitions
asking Apple to make changes and to be more
"Apple has announced that the Fair Labor Association
will be monitoring its suppliers. Awesome step. Please publish the results of
FLA's monitoring, including the names of the suppliers found to have violations
and what those violations are, so that there is transparency around the
monitoring effort," Mark Shields wrote in a Change.org petition signed by
more than 200,000 people.
The FLA findings and recommendations from the assessments
will be posted in early March on the FLA Website
, according to Apple. The company added that its suppliers have
"pledged their full cooperation with the FLA," and the assessments
will include interviews with thousands of employees about "working and living conditions including
health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with
In January, The
New York Times
, "This American Life" and CBS News, among other news outlets, ran
lengthy exposes on the Foxconn factories.
The CBS piece gave considerable air time to New York
performance artist Mike Daisey, whose one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy
of Steve Jobs," focuses on the conditions at Foxconn, where he says more
than half the world's electronics are made.
Daisey traveled to one of the factories, where outside its
gates he met workers as young as 12-years-old and viewed netting the company
had strung around employee dormitories, to dissuade suicide attempts. At least
17 employees have killed themselves since 2010, according to a number of
Most recently, in a Feb. 13 post on his blog
, Daisey takes New York Times
reporter David Pogue to task for his response to the situation, which included
writing that "if Apple can pressure Foxconn to clean up its act, it
The 'if' is troubling. If? Apple is one of the most profitable companies
in the history of the world, with $100 billion dollars sitting in the bank
right now. Is there really a question that they might not be able to make their
supplier come into compliance with local labor laws? If we can't expect Apple
to obey the law and do the right thing, if it is actually impossible ... what
should our expectations be for any corporation?
Apple, in its statement, added that in January it became the
first technology company admitted to the FLA, and that the results of its more
than 500 factory audits over the last five years are available on its Web site