Apple begins ‘thorough audit’ of Foxconn iPod factory

“Apple Computer Inc. said on Monday it had begun ‘a thorough audit’ of a Chinese manufacturing plant operated by Foxconn that makes its iPod digital music players after a newspaper report alleged Foxconn treated workers unfairly,” Reuters reports.

“‘Apple has begun a thorough audit of the manufacturing plant operated by Foxconn in Longhua, China,’ said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling,” Reuters reports. “The audit will look at ’employee working and living conditions, interviews of employees and managers, compliance with overtime and wage regulations, and other areas as necessary to insure adherence to Apple’s supplier code of conduct,’ Dowling said.”

Reuters reports, “Apple said last week after the publication on June 11 of a report in the London newspaper Mail on Sunday that workers had to endure shifts of 15 hours per day for about $50 per month, that it was investigating the report.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Apple iPod manufacturer Foxconn sternly denies iPod sweatshop claims – June 19, 2006
Apple iPod ‘sweatshop’ story a ‘poorly researched sensationalist article’ – June 19, 2006
Apple rebuts Chinese iPod factory claims – June 13, 2006
iPods made in Chinese sweatshops? – June 13, 2006

16 Comments

  1. I’m glad to see Apple doing the right thing. I wish they would have been more proactive, though. Why not be a shining example of good work practices? Would I pay an extra $3 for my next iPod if it means that another human being gets treated a little more fairly and respectfully? Yup.

  2. Apple begins ‘thorough audit’ of Foxconn iPod factory?

    Just what does that mean? The only way to check such allegations is to send an investigative team to spend a week or two on-site. In this case, a team fluent in whatever it is they speak in that region – Mandarin? Cantonese? Other?

    Two things about the report:
    a) the workers may be treated horribly, but where’s the suggestion they are treated “unfairly”?
    b) the 15-hours-daily claim is wrong on the face of it
    -=> work quality drops after 10 hours on the job, accelerating as it goes
    -=> iPods have a reputation for overall high quality (except for scratches)

    They may well find conditions that “western” employees would rail at, but I doubt they will be as bad as claimed.

  3. Harry, why do you believe the Mail article? How do you not know that Foxconn is already a shining example of China work conditions (not US or Europe work conditions).

    I’m just saying it may or may not be true, and I wouldn’t draw any conclusions just yet.

    Foxconn has already disputed it. Even if Apple already knew Foxconn was right and the Mail article was wrong, for PR reasons, they must go through with this audit. Perception demands it.

  4. What’s sad is this chasing after ghosts and unnecessary PR spin will make folks think that something was wrong after all. It’s better to nip these things in the bud by saying, “Your journalistic effluvium is bull!” than to take it seriously. I had a hard time buying the 15-hours claim, too. You just can’t work well even after 12.

  5. Apple is doing the right thing here. If they ignore it, it will look like Apple doesn’t care or that the report was in fact correct. Same thing if they just say the report is a lie. By investigating the issue, everyone can be content that conditions are as they should be and that Apple is concerned about worker conditions.

  6. DLMeyer,

    a) the workers may be treated horribly, but where’s the suggestion they are treated “unfairly”?

    Waitwaitwait–you didn’t just imply that “treated horribly” <> “treated unfairly”, did you? Even worse, you didn’t just imply that “treated unfairly” is worse than being “treated horribly”? If you are saying that, then…wow. Hope nobody ever works for you, if you think that it’s okay to treat your workers horribly as long as it’s fair.

  7. apple will buy some prominent person’s “credibility”. an investigaton with predictible results and minor recommendations will follow.

    and nothing will change and the slave driving practices will continue.

  8. They’ll find nothing.

    Or at least claim to find nothing. (And if they do admit it, then it will not be their fault. However, they will do the “right thing” and fix it.)

    Tha’ts corporate fo ryou.

  9. This is a great move by Apple, and – assuming it to be more than just PR – might even do some good.

    Unlike some of the boneheads who have posted since this story broke, I don’t think my desire for an iPod trumps some poor guy/girl’s right to decent working conditions. And I also do not subscribe to the notion that “decent” is relative. In a world of floating exchange rates and unequal economic development, WAGES are relative. Working conditions on the other hand – especially those in a factory as technologically advanaced as one building frigging iPods in the 21st century would have to be – by definition are not relative. Hours of work in that same factory are also universal – either they’re so long that you have no life outside the factory, or they’re not. Plus, given the enormous amount of money any company saves on wages & materials by setting up shop in China, there’s absolutely NO EXCUSE for poor working conditions or unreasonable hours for human beings required to work in same. It’s unethical, and once-upon-a-time that would have been enough reason to label it ‘unAmerican’ too.

    Hopefully, someday, we’ll get back to that standard again – so that ridiculous blowhards willing to look the otherway about it will be shunned like the mental lepers they truely are.

    In the meantime, here’s hoping there’s no real problems at that plant. But an even more fervent hope that, IF there are problems, Apple steps up to the plate and fixes them. If it means I have to pay $10 more for my next iPod, then so be it.
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  10. Odyssey67 (good morning Mike, back on subject again…) I guess you’re calling me a bonehead as well, as I did a couple of posts, Mike can confirm that…

    Totally agree with your sentiments, no doubt, I assure you that I feel the same way. Living up to them is a totally different story.

    Wages are relative, living conditions are relative, working-hours are relative as well, but you have to be very precise on describing in what perspective! Decent is relative as well. Decent is a value that is (almost) completely determined by social and cultural values. What is decent in the USA or Europe, Let’s say giving a hand as a manner of greeting, is considered decent.
    In Thailand it is absolutely not decent to do that!
    Burping, slurping and other ‘very undecent’ behaviour while eating, are considered to be decent in China! They are considered to be absolutely not done in the USA or Europe. That’s ‘animal-behaviour’ in our eyes…isn’t it?

    Now, poor working conditions have to be controlled and expelled, no doubt. But you have to do that in view of local circumstances and local laws.

    Apple seems to be stepping up the plate, might find it a bad situation and put sanctions, (not bad with rumors about shuffle-stop, but an entirely different discussion) but I will be surprised if anything like that happens.

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