The Fair Labor Association conducted its audits of three plants owned by the Taiwanese based company Foxconn. In recent years Foxconn has caught headlines around the world for their employee suicides and reportedly terrible working and living conditions.
After years of allegations and bad press, the Fair Labor Association completed its review of Foxconn this week and the news is good for the manufacturing company. The president and CEO of FLA has said “Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made. We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan.”
Foxconn has been accused of abusive working hours, though those hours provide employees with the opportunity to earn more money working overtime. One of the actions that the FLA has challenged Foxconn with is that it eventually achieves China’s limit of a 40 hour work week. Currently, Foxconn workers work around 60 hours, and it’s been more in the past. The full report is available here. While the FLA’s compliments have reached many ears, criticism of their assertions are quick to bubble up. The Hong-Kong based labor rights group Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior has been a persistent critic of the manufacturing companies practices, and has conducted their own independent research into the labor conditions over the past few years.
A spokesperson for the group says ”Firstly, most of the actions completed by Foxconn are changes at the policy level only, but few substantial changes in labor practices were found at this stage,” she adds “Secondly, Foxconn has deliberately delayed implementing many of the actions called for in the remediation plan, even those that are almost cost-free. Thirdly, workers have had no opportunity to participate in the remedial action process. SACOM has repetitively demanded democratic trade unions at Foxconn as an indispensable step in reforming its labor practices.”
Foxconn maintains that they are working hard to cut working hours and increase safety. Salary increases have multiplied on top of themselves in the past few years, but critics may never rest. For now, take a look into where your iPhone, iPads, and Mac products are being made. Cheap labor works, but as open media allows us a closer view into the source of our favorite products; we have begun to demand a more American standard of working conditions.