After facing criticism from both the media and human rights organizations, Apple has opened up the doors to its manufacturing plants for the world to see. This has allowed the Fair Labor Association in to do an inspection, and ABC to do a report.

If you haven’t seen ABC’s “A Trip to the iFactory” yet, you should really watch it. The documentary actually doesn’t make Foxconn, Apple’s largest manufacturing partner, look as bad as the media has made them out to be. But were they hiding anything?

According to Debby Sze Wan Chan, a project officer for SACOM (Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior), Foxconn was prepared for the FLA’s visit.

She claims that two Foxconn employees told her last week that “all underage workers, between 16-17 years old, were not assigned any overtime work” during the last two weeks due to the inspections. And some were even sent to “other departments.” Chan also says that factory workers have told her that Foxconn has been putting on quite a “show” for the FLA’s inspectors, giving workers three breaks a day, where they typically only get one.

So what’s really going on inside Foxconn? Hopefully we will know in the coming weeks. The FLA plans on doing interviews from the bottom up over the next month to find out what the workers really think about their employer.


  • youtube is good for people outside US

  • Of course they’ve put on a show. Let’s not be naive…

  • Greg Hao

    Having worked with manufacturers in China (both in Shenzhen at low tech stuff and in Shanghai for high tech stuff, though I’ve never worked with Foxconn), I find this whole exercise to be hilarious.

    Now, I haven’t watched the ABC docu and I shall get around to it at some point, but the whole theory of inspection in China is a laugh. So much is telegraphed and pre-announced that you really have to be an inept factory owner to be caught red handed violating standards.

    Some of the things that I have first hand observations of: Inspection company employees openly colluding with factory owner/management by giving them heads up about inspection schedules. I have been given schedules of inspections which are supposed to be random.

    It’s true that most factories no longer use child labour (always been more of a canard than anything else in China) but illegal overtime is common practise and most factories keep multiple sets of books such that this kind of behaviour is difficult to track.

  • Anonymous

    This happens everywhere. Even if you do good work, you know when the boss, or corporate big wigs are coming by you make sure to put in a little extra effort and make sure everything is looking as good as possible. Same thing happens during any health or safety inspection. Doesn’t matter the industry; construction, restaurants, retail, or manufacturing you’re going to be showing the practices they want to see when they’re their even if you don’t follow them on a regular basis.

  • Anonymous

    Of course there are things that are masked to look better and more politically correct.

    But after seeing that sea of people running to be hired by Foxconn in the documentary, I think that, although it is far from being the best place in the world to work (and will never be. Who in their sanity will think that it is funny to carve 3000 ipad apple logos during 12 hours??), it is still a place that gives opportunity to people get a better life. In this case, of course, better life doesn’t mean become rich or have a great job, but a job that help poor people to sustain their families.

    Their salaries are bad and life conditions are awful? Of course it is, but it is old news and it is not ony related to Foxconn or Apple this problem. The low wage is a general problem in China, but some time ago, only few people were concerned about it. But just after Apple became this mult-million iDevice seller, this is now hot news. I am not defending Apple and I am not a Apple fanboy, but isn’t it strange? This problems are in the air for at least 15 years and why only Foxconn and Apple are the villains now?

    Sometimes I think that people want to see that Foxconn Giga Fab is like Apple’s Cuppertino campus, filled of green and gorgeous builds. A fab is very unlikely to be something like this (the only exceptions that I know are high cost-low volume car production fabs, like McLaren, Bugatti or VW Phateon plants)