The accusations of poor labor practice against Foxconn have been going on for years, but the most recent round of major accusations began with a report in the NYT in January, which prompted a response from Tim Cook. Now Apple has made an official announcement that the Fair Labor Association will “conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request.”
Said Tim Cook:
“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers. The inspections now underway 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.”
Much of the ire for the conditions at Foxconn has been leveled at Apple, but they are a company that services many of the major electronics manufacturers, including Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and Amazon. The attention to the conditions at Foxconn was percolated a few years ago by a rash of suicides at the plants — but it is worth pointing out that the suicide rate in the factories is lower than that of China as a whole.
Hopefully these new investigations will lead to overhauled and improved conditions for workers. If I have to pay an extra $20 on my next iPhone to improve the lives of a bunch of factory workers, I’m okay with that.