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  (Source: digitaltrends.com)
FLA president said other factories in China are much worse, and that Apple's Foxconn plants are "first-class"

After The New York Times released a report on the poor treatment of Apple's suppliers' workers, weeks of Apple bashing ensued. But a new study from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) takes the opposite stance, saying that workers at factories like Foxconn are not being pushed to their limits -- they're just bored.

Auret van Heerden, president of the Fair Labor Association, is currently investigating the conditions of Apple's suppliers' factories in China after Apple recently volunteered for FLA inspection. Van Heerden recently visited one of Apple's main suppliers, Foxconn Technology Group, and found that the working conditions there were better than many other factories in China such as garment factories.

"The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," said van Heerden. "I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory. So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It's more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps."

Van Heerden explained that many of the workers come from distant rural areas away from their families, and are thrown into an industrial setting that they're not used to with people that they don't know. With this kind of boredom, alienation and homesickness, the young workers require emotional support, and the factories were not aware that this was the case. Van Heerden said that this emotional distress is what led to the suicides at Foxconn, not employees being overworked.

Van Heerden also sided with Apple in the respect that the company decided to join the FLA, which subjects the company to intense monitoring.

"Apple didn't need to join the FLA," said van Heerden. "The FLA system is very tough. It involves unannounced visits, complete access, public reporting. If Apple wanted to take the easy way out, there were a whole host of options available to them. The fact that they joined the FLA shows they were really serious about raising their game."

Last month, The New York Times published a report detailing the harsh conditions that Apple's suppliers' workers must endure. The article listed problems like long hours, exhaustion, lengthy overtime, unsafe working environments (a collection of aluminum dust from polishing iPad cases led to two explosions in two separate Foxconn plants due to poor ventilation), underage employment and crowded living conditions as some of the violations to Apple's supplier code of conduct. Despite violations to this code, which have been brought to Apple's attention repeatedly on an annual basis since 2007, The New York Times wondered why Apple wasn't doing anything to improve it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook fired back about the claims that Apple doesn't care about its supplier's employees overseas. He sent an email to Apple employees stating that the company cares about each and every worker, and that he was outraged by the accusations which stated otherwise.

"As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values," said Cook. "Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are."

About 30 FLA employees will be spending the next three weeks at Chinese Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu to interview 35,000 workers. Each Apple Foxconn worker will be given iPads to complete a survey, which asks them the following series of questions: how were they hired, were they paid a fee, what are the conditions of their dorms/food, were their complaints acted upon, what is their emotional well being, and were they offered/did they sign any contracts and did they understand them.

After collecting this information, the FLA will create a full report of their findings. The report will be available in early March 2012.

Foxconn will not be the only supplier investigated by the FLA. Asian suppliers like Quanta Computer Inc., Wintek Corp. and Pegatron Corp. will be placed under the microscope as well at a later date.

Sources: Reuters, CNET



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RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 12:30:42 PM , Rating: -1
What Americans consider "harsh" is quite different than Asians. Sad to say, you couldn't even pay most Americans to work more than 8 hour days.

The New York times isn't qualified to asses worker conditions, first off. Secondly, they are the most Liberal publication out there. Of COURSE they're going to slam non-union Asian factories. That's a no brainer.

quote:
Either the New York Times is lying in order to sell papers


Well of course! They're in business to sell papers. However it probably comes down to a point of view, not necessarily lies.

You have to apply to work at Foxxconn. Meaning you're also free to quit.


RE: Someone is lying
By InvertMe on 2/16/2012 12:32:08 PM , Rating: 5
Is that why they call America the no vacation nation? Sorry but almost everyone I work with puts in 9-12 hours a day. I lose 2+ weeks of "Vacation" a year because I cannot be away from work.

Most Americans from my perspective work an insane and unhealthy amount of hours.

I just had a new baby two weeks ago and my work is freaking out that I actually want time off to see her.. Very typical attitude in the States.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Someone is lying
By geddarkstorm on 2/16/2012 12:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe the whole "jobs Americans won't do" is slightly over used. Maybe the American people are more willing to work hard and dangerously than most like to believe, and already do so.

I've seen footage from inside those Foxconn plants. Unless they've changed radically since a year ago, I don't believe this initial FLA release in the slightest. It isn't their actual report either though.

Still, it is possible Foxconn cleaned up its act of the past few months when no one was looking. Right?


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Someone is lying
By yomamafor1 on 2/16/2012 4:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
Probably this is the only time I'll agree with you.

Workers' conditions really have nothing to do with Apple. Apple cannot control whether or not Foxconn will allow workers to rest. The only thing they can do is ask Foxconn whether it can meet the demanded volume at a certain time at a certain price. Foxconn could say yes, like they did, or no, which they'll go into negotiation table.

The funny thing is, Apple is not the only Foxconn customer. Almost all of the other companies use Foxconn for manufacturing, including Acer, ASUS, AMD, Dell, HP, HTC, Intel, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, etc. If you're using an electronics, chances are the parts were made by Foxconn, and assembled by Foxconn. The only difference between Apple and other tech companies is that Apple is much more high profile. But if one wants to blame Apple for Foxconn workers' poor condition, all of the tech companies need to share the blame. However, blaming these tech companies for workers' conditions is similar to blaming In-n-Out burger for the low wage and poor working condition in the slaughterhouses. It is idiotic.

If you really want to blame, blame Foxconn and the Chinese government.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/16/2012 4:42:16 PM , Rating: 2
Your so full of shit. America is one of the only 1st world nations that does not mandate time off.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 8:42:49 PM , Rating: 1
Our Government has no business "mandating" time off for workers. That doesn't not mean, however, that employers do not GIVE time off. They are free to do so. And people are free to choose an employer that has policies best suited to them.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/16/2012 9:47:15 PM , Rating: 1
If their wasn't people like you our government wouldn't have to, but unfortunately people like you exist. Most righties are Christian, are you? If so I have a question for you.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/17/2012 12:17:33 PM , Rating: 3
????

Okay I'll bite, although I have NO idea why religion would enter into this. No, I'm not religious. Now what was your question? Is there a Bible verse that says "though shall not mandate time off" or something?

Between you and Cordoroyguy and his blatant bigoted views on religion, I'm getting quite tired of you people assuming a Conservative point of view on something MUST be religious based. If you cannot debate someone without trying to establish some spiritual link to their opinions, thus easily undermining them, that's just pathetic.

How does thinking that government mandated time off is a gross over-reach of Federal authority an inherently "rightie" statement anyway?

If there is to be "mandated" time off from any Government, that would only be acceptable at the state level. And even then it would be questionable in it's wisdom.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/17/2012 12:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
Never mind I've already asked the question to your head cheerleader FITCamero.


RE: Someone is lying
By FITCamaro on 2/17/12, Rating: -1
RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/17/2012 9:47:48 AM , Rating: 2
Religious hating idiot were did that come from? I have a question for a right wing Christian how is that religious hating? I've worked 40+ hrs a week since I was 16.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/17/2012 12:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'll go ahead and ask you the question I was going to ask Reclaimer. Acts 4 clearly shows that Jesus and the apostiles were socialists. How does your hatred of socialism fit with your religious beliefs?

Here is the text from Acts if you've never read it. Their is no denying they were socialists.

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.


RE: Someone is lying
By FITCamaro on 2/17/12, Rating: 0
RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/17/2012 7:00:55 PM , Rating: 2
They were Socialists they sold all their belongings and pooled the proceeds for each to have what they need. How can such an uncaring person like yourself call himself a Christian? You are nothing like Jesus. You're just a greedy hate filled person.


RE: Someone is lying
By DougF on 2/20/2012 10:42:18 AM , Rating: 2
As Inigo Montoya said so well: "I do not think it means what you think it means." The description in the Bible is of piety, not socialism. You need to read the passage in Acts in context with the early days of the church.

The early church believed Christ was returning any day. So, they lived as if he were returning THAT day. Possessions were sold and people readied themselves for transport to heaven. It is a wonderful personal philosophy, to live as if Christ were returning today. But, it is neither socialism, nor communism, nor any other political theory.

Christians are constantly balancing the need to plan for the future and living as if Christ were returning today. We have to be careful not to chase money for love of money, but to not plan for the coming winter or retirement or whatever, would be to ignore the "daily bread" we are given by our Father. Christ didn't have any problem with rich people, per se, but he did recognize that most rich people love their money first and God second. Christians have to be ready to give up everything for Christ, not for others, not for a government, or a society, or even a charity organization. And, Christ WILL demand you give up everything to follow him.

To sum it up: This passage in Acts is describing love of God in the form of piety, not socialism.


RE: Someone is lying
By yomamafor1 on 2/16/2012 4:42:10 PM , Rating: 5
Except that unions existed for a reason. Those labor laws did not come to be automatically. The working conditions that you enjoy nowadays were not enjoyed by your ancestors, who probably shared the same working conditions as those Foxconn workers.

Personally I agree that unions nowadays may have became redundant, since we have a pretty comprehensive labor law in place today. However, blaming our current lack of manufacturing industry on unions is idiotic to say the least.

And when you have time, perhaps you should get over your ego and read NYT's report on why China is the preferred choice of manufacturing. Here's a hint, union is not one of the reasons.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-a...


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: 0
RE: Someone is lying
By messele on 2/16/2012 4:46:21 PM , Rating: 3
Same problem in the UK. Well a little different but the effect is the same.

You may or may not know about the relatively generous welfare in the UK and how it pampers those who refuse to work, have addiction problems or have decided to spend their (early) adulthood squeezing out as many puppies as possible (babies = more welfare). Free housing, tax exemption, plenty of free time for bohemian pursuits.

So, all those low-paid but still perfectly respectable jobs such as farming labour, dirty manual jobs are instead being lapped up by Eastern Europeans who are wallowing in the relatively decent pay (compared to back home) while lazy Brits refuse to do any such work as they are quite comfortable on their state handouts. These are the same people who wasted their lives at school and had no foresight as to what was coming. Morons if you will.

Then they have the nerve to use foreign labour as an excuse, proclaiming that foreigners are 'stealing' all the jobs. The reality is your average Polish family man just needs a few years work to earn enough money to buy a house back home where he has every intention of returning once he's made a better life for his family. Can you blame him?

There is no room for cheap manufacturing labour in the UK, people simply refuse to work which is why the only real manufacturing over here now is much higher end stuff where Britain's skills are traditionally very good, or certain sectors of manufacturing that are run with such efficiency that the numbers stack up.

China will not be a poor impoverished nation forever, their improvements in standards of living are growing exponentially compared the West (until they catch up). By then there will be other nations, India, Brazil, certain nations of Africa who will provide a more attractive alternative and so manufacturing will move there.

Nothing will change, the global economy is global and will remain so.


RE: Someone is lying
By Samus on 2/16/2012 3:47:43 PM , Rating: 5
I've worked 50+ hours a week for the last 10 years. I rarely take a vacation, and that's usually when I burn out.

We are one of the most highly-stressed countries in the world. Yes, you can argue all you want Asian's are better at 'dealing' with stress than westerners, but that's irrelevent, we work our asses off. We didn't become the world super-power sitting around with our dicks hanging out.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: 0
RE: Someone is lying
By yomamafor1 on 2/16/2012 4:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
But Asians usually have only one job. That job would be very demanding, but they would only have one job.

Americans, on the other hand, the norm is multiple jobs. I've met people who has 4~5 jobs, or juggling three jobs and going to college at the same time. That is something extremely rare in Asia.

To be honest, Americans are not as lazy and dumb as everyone else made out to be.


RE: Someone is lying
By FITCamaro on 2/17/2012 8:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
You work in the wrong place then.


RE: Someone is lying
By lightfoot on 2/16/2012 12:46:05 PM , Rating: 4
Factories don't explode from worker boredom. Sorry.

The New York Times may well have exaggerated the issues, but it is clear that Apple is also downplaying the issues.

I don't think we have had an honest assessment of what is really going on yet. We just have two sides pushing an agenda.

I've been to China and seen working conditions first hand. Neither of these stories passes the sniff test. But by far, Apple's story stinks the most. "Normal" working conditions in China are pretty bad.

Apple should at least admit the issues that it does have and what it is doing to correct them. Instead we just get BS from an auditer before they have even started their investigation.

According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune:
quote:
"I'm flabbergasted," says Daisey, whose reporting out of China's Shenzhen city helped draw international attention to the problems there. "I know of no labor group that thinks it appropriate to comment on a company it's investigating before that investigation has even begun."


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 3:15:49 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Factories don't explode from worker boredom. Sorry.


We never have factory fires and explosions here either? Think again! That's anecdotal at best.

quote:
I've been to China and seen working conditions first hand. Neither of these stories passes the sniff test. But by far, Apple's story stinks the most. "Normal" working conditions in China are pretty bad.


By what standard? Again, China is China. Judging Foxconn's conditions by Western standards is just nationalism. If China is to improve, it's not Apple that needs to make the changes. It's the Chinese people/government.

quote:
Apple should at least admit the issues that it does have and what it is doing to correct them.


Foxconn is an independent contractor. It's not up to Apple to "correct" anything, it's not their problem. This is business.

This just seems like more bleeding heart nationalistic BS. Like everyone is suddenly shocked people aren't treated well in a Communist country? What did you people think?

Every time someone like me criticizes China for being Communist, or brings up their human rights record, we're flamed down and told to shut up. Suddenly when you yuppies realize your iToy's aren't made by unicorns, but an oppressed people, China isn't so great after all?

Which is it?


RE: Someone is lying
By mcnabney on 2/16/2012 5:04:17 PM , Rating: 2
According to you there is no reason for conditions to ever improve in China.

The consumers don't care. They are just following standard rules of capitalism by desiring a more feature-full product at a lower price.

The brands (Apple, Samsung, Old Navy) don't care. They have to compete in the market and deliver the most value to their shareholders. The lower the price they can get for products the more they can cut prices (to improve market share) or increase profits (to appease stockholders).

The OEMs (Foxconn) don't care. They also compete against other manufacturers for export contracts. If they can't deliver ever-lower prices, the importers will find someone else.

The Chinese government doesn't care. They promised jobs to their population, not worker safety. The more they can make the world dependent on their products, the more power they can wield on the global stage.

The workers actually don't care. Really, life in a relatively clean factory that doesn't seem to be toxic or dangerous is a lot better than dirt-farming in western China. If they work a lot of extra hours they can earn enough money to get married, have a child, and maybe help that child get an advantage that allows him/her to work in a skyscrapper on the coast.

Nobody cares. Isn't capitalism great?


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 5:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Nobody cares. Isn't capitalism great?


You realize since China started to adopt more Capitalistic principles, prosperity has exploded right? Look at their economy.

It's not perfect. Hell it's still a Communist country. But in what warped mindset does the idea that Capitalism caused China's problems come from? Public School?

China has gone through more changes in the past 10 years than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime. What the hell do you want, overnight turnaround?

Change, as always, will probably come from within. Like this.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/5811/chi...

Not from people across the ocean flapping their cakeholes over the Internet.


RE: Someone is lying
By homebredcorgi on 2/16/2012 5:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not even sure where you actually stand on this issue.

I fail to see how contracting work out skirts all responsibility of worker conditions. Given comments by Apple's CEO, it is plainly obvious that they choose Chinese contractors because of their low cost due to these abhorrent working conditions - conditions that they know would be illegal in the US. Apple (or any other company) is not blind to what goes on with their contractors and ignoring these issues because its not your company and in a different country doesn't make it right.

We should not be supporting countries that use de facto slave labor and ignore environmental laws. We have these laws in our country for a reason. Yet we have incentivized our economic system in a way that rewards US corporations that avoid our own laws and use labor from countries like China. Even if it isn't our problem, we have the power to stop it by providing less financial incentive for our own corporations.

Deeming it "not our problem" when US companies and US consumers take advantage of these poor conditions completely dismisses the moral issues and skirts all responsibility. Just because you may think it isn't our problem doesn't mean we don't have the power (and moral obligation) to change it.

Not to mention these policies that have incentivized outsourcing have completely hollowed out our own manufacturing capabilities.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/12, Rating: -1
RE: Someone is lying
By someguy123 on 2/16/2012 7:10:25 PM , Rating: 3
I sort of agree with you here in that worker standards vary greatly depending on territory, but at the same time, apple is "supporting" this inspection and trying to use it to improve their image. They're also using their market position and substantial stockpile of money as leverage to push foxconn into contracting factories at razor thin margins. Foxconn could play hardball but Apple has a massive dedicated market and could easily take a hit (or pass costs to the consumer) by producing elsewhere considering their already staggering profit margins per unit, or they could use their savings to create their own production facilities. They're both in the wrong here but foxconn has no leverage.

In the developed areas of china the facility conditions aren't as bad as people assume. The factory designs are piecemeal and awkward, and they may look slummy, but they're not all that dangerous nor hazardous. It's much more convenient to not have your employees dying and just having a constant stream of income, unless you're desperate to squeeze profits out of an underpaying contract.


RE: Someone is lying
By DEVGRU on 2/16/2012 1:38:14 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Auret van Heerden, president of the Fair Labor Association, is currently investigating the conditions of Apple's suppliers' factories in China after Apple recently volunteered for FLA inspection. Van Heerden recently visited one of Apple's main suppliers, Foxconn Technology Group, and found that the working conditions there were better than many other factories in China such as garment factories.


Sounds like when the Red Cross visits a POW camp. Look! All the prisoners are well fed, clothed, and happy!

Because you know, I'm sure it was a 100% SURPRISE "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" inspection... Right? I'm sure Foxconn had NO IDEA someone was coming exactly at X day and Y time.

/sarcasm


RE: Someone is lying
By Methusela on 2/16/2012 2:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sad to say, you couldn't even pay most Americans to work more than 8 hour days.


You couldn't be more wrong. Out of 37 OECD nations, the US ranks 13th highest in total hours worked annually, and we would most likely be ranked #8-#10 if it weren't for the economic conditions forcing a huge segment of the population to resort to part-time employment.

Are you really implying that it is good to work people 50, 60, or even 90 hours a week? You do understand how ridiculous you appear, right?

As for the rest of your comments, you clearly have an anti-American agenda. You insult Americans and the country itself. If you dislike it so strongly, why don't you leave?


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 3:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Are you really implying that it is good to work people 50, 60, or even 90 hours a week? You do understand how ridiculous you appear, right?


Of course it's not good. I just frankly don't care. It's not my problem.

I've been speaking for years about how crappy China is, nobody want's to listen. But I guess Communism is only evil when people making phones are treated badly.

The sheer vapid process that goes on in most peoples heads about the rest of the world is astounding.

quote:
As for the rest of your comments, you clearly have an anti-American agenda. You insult Americans and the country itself. If you dislike it so strongly, why don't you leave?


???

Nobody here is more pro-American. You need to learn to read.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/16/12, Rating: 0
RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/16/2012 5:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well what are you doing to fix this situation? I'm all ears. I already don't buy Apple products. Short of taking over China single-handedly I'm not sure what more I can do. I'm NOT going to stop buying all electronics. Sorry.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/16/2012 10:05:01 PM , Rating: 1
I try to limit what I buy from China. My computer is about 8 years old. My clothes don't come from China. One thing you could do is care. You have a real fucked up view of the world. I've worked since I was 15, 40+ hrs a week, I've went years without a vacation. You think the majority of Americans are lazy, don't want to work and just want to collect welfare. Everyone I know is like me and works hard. I don't know anyone on welfare.


RE: Someone is lying
By Reclaimer77 on 2/17/2012 12:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I've worked since I was 15, 40+ hrs a week,


We all have. So what? Do you want a medal? Again you're proving my statement. A typical Asian worker would LOVE to say he could get by only working 40+ hours a week.

quote:
You think the majority of Americans are lazy


Again, WRONG! Do you not understand the context of this topic? I'm not calling Americans lazy by pointing out that, culturally, American's and Asians have vastly different viewpoints of "hard work". Damn, are you just stupid or do you really not even care about reading the other persons argument?

Again, in America you're a hard worker. I'm not taking anything from that. But we have it damned good in this country, and that's a fact. The working conditions at Foxconn are better than normal for an Asian factory. They are ABOVE average.

If you cannot grasp the context and the differences between the two cultures, do yourself a favor and drop this. Because I'm tired of you wasting my time, jumping to conclusions, and failing to get a clue.

I care that there's over a billion people over there living under Communist rule. Crying about working conditions doesn't change that. How in the hell can you fix something when you can't even identify the problem, thurston? I know the problem, you don't.


RE: Someone is lying
By thurston2 on 2/17/2012 7:29:49 PM , Rating: 2
No medal required just letting you know that I don't fit into your view of the typical American. This is pointless you're just a bitter old man who doesn't give a shit about anyone.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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