New report shows labor conditions at Foxconn improving


Earlier this year, The New York Times published a bleak, extensive report on the poor working conditions inside Foxconn’s factories. The manufacturer makes products for several companies, but the piece specifically called out Apple.

In the latest installment of its “iEconomy” series, The Times takes a look at the changes made by both Apple and Foxconn to improve the working conditions inside their Chinese plants. And from the sound of it, things are getting better…

The report details several changes including wage increases, shorter work weeks and Apple’s joining of the FLA (Fair Labor Association), and it also gives us a look at how the companies are addressing the problems from the inside.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The world is watching!” [Foxconn chairman Terry] Gou yelled, according to multiple people. “We are going to fix this, right here!”

But the inspector was not done.

He turned to the only Apple executive in the room, the senior vice president for operations, Jeff Williams. Apple needed to change as well, the inspector said. Apple, to its credit, had been working for years to improve conditions in overseas factories, but the company was treating such problems too much like engineering puzzles, the inspector said.

“Long-term solutions require a messier, more human approach,” that inspector, Auret van Heerden of the Fair Labor Association, told Mr. Williams. Instead of concentrating on writing more policies, Apple needed to listen better to workers’ complaints and advocacy groups’ recommendations.”

Beyond wages and work hours, the report also talks about other changes being made from within the factory. There’s one story in particular where a quality inspector gets her flimsy green stool replaced with a sturdy, high-backed chair.

Foxconn — and subsequently Apple, it’s largest client — has come under heavy criticism in recent years regarding a number of issues, such as poor living and working conditions, the employing of children, and forcing staffers to work overtime.

Apple, for its part, has ramped up efforts to improve things, as detailed on its Supplier Responsibility page. In its most recent entry to the page, Apple noted that it is now tracking the work hours of more than 1 million supply chain workers.

Maybe things are finally starting to change for the better at Foxconn?