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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:24 AM   #1
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Fair Labor Association Offers Initial Impressions on Foxconn Audit as iPads Used to Collect Survey Data




With the Fair Labor Association's independent audit of Foxconn's manufacturing facilities for Apple products having been underway for several days now, Reuters reports on the association's initial impressions as it works to collect and analyze data on working conditions.




According to Fair Labor Association president Auret van Heerden, Foxconn's facilities appear to be "first-class" in comparison to the garment factories the association has typically monitored, with van Heerden suggesting that monotony and boredom associated with repetitive assembly tasks may be among the most significant threats to workers' all-around health at the facilities.
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After his first visits to Foxconn, van Heerden said, "The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm."

He spent the past several days visiting Foxconn plants to prepare for the study.

"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he said. "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."
The report notes that the Fair Labor Association has 30 employees on hand to conduct the audit, with Foxconn employees being surveyed for the audit using iPads to record their responses. Three separate Foxconn factories representing 300,000 workers are being audited over the course of three weeks, with 35,000 employees participating in the group's anonymous assessment surveys.
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Questions will include:

- how the workers were hired
- if they were paid a fee
- if they were offered and signed contracts and whether they understood them
- the condition of their dorm rooms and food
- if complaints are acted upon
- their emotional well being
Apple CEO Tim Cook had much to say on the topic of worker safety during an interview at a Goldman Sachs investor conference yesterday, noting that Apple is working closely with the Fair Labor Association and attempting to be as proactive and transparent as possible in addressing the issues.

Article Link: Fair Labor Association Offers Initial Impressions on Foxconn Audit as iPads Used to Collect Survey Data
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:31 AM   #2
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While it is encouraging to see americans worried about worker rights, and to see an american company go to such great lengths to improve working conditions at its plants in china, I find it baffling that the working conditions of Foxconn employees working on Apple products in China has resulted in public outrage across the country while our food is being picked by people in far greater oppression (often literal slavery) right here in our own country.

Where is the national news coverage and public outrage about farm worker working conditions in the United States?
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:32 AM   #3
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I have a feeling that in comparison they will find some of the best conditions at these shops. Doesn't mean they are still acceptable, but it's good to see this process is being brought public facing vs. behind closed doors.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:32 AM   #4
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That's surprising, since some media sites with no first hand experience called it a hell hole.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:34 AM   #5
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Sounds like detractors, OK, enemies, are grasping at anything to complain about Apple.

Still, any improvement is great!
I would not want a bored, alienated, suffering from repetitive motion employee not making sure assembly was correct (simply switching stations every day goes a long way).
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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What I don't get is why people are not protesting against the clothing industry. Most brand name clothing is made in China with even poorer working conditions than electronics. These are the so called sweatshops.

I hope other industry leaders also start caring about the employees.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Consultant View Post
That's surprising, since some media sites with no first hand experience called it a hell hole.
Well you can bet if they don't come out with a scathing report some in thr media will just call this organization a shill for Apple. They've got a narrative to push and they won't let facts get in the way.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by PracticalMac View Post
Sounds like detractors, OK, enemies, are grasping at anything to complain about Apple.

Still, any improvement is great!
I would not want a bored, alienated, suffering from repetitive motion employee not making sure assembly was correct (simply switching stations every day goes a long way).
I'm curious why everyone is singling out Apple when countless other technology companies use the same plant.

I'm also curious why when Apple actually does something while the other companies are still doing nothing, they STILL get criticized.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:41 AM   #9
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Avoiding the politics, Tim Cook's word is rock-solid. No wonder Steve liked him so much.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by charlesdayton View Post
What I don't get is why people are not protesting against the clothing industry. Most brand name clothing is made in China with even poorer working conditions than electronics. These are the so called sweatshops.

I hope other industry leaders also start caring about the employees.
As far as the media goes Apple is good click-bait. If they wrote about some other tech company or clothing manufacturer no one would give a toss.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by charlesdayton View Post
What I don't get is why people are not protesting against the clothing industry. Most brand name clothing is made in China with even poorer working conditions than electronics. These are the so called sweatshops.

I hope other industry leaders also start caring about the employees.
There are but they are under the radar. Mostly it's just not sexy enough for headlines but NIKE and Levis have made headlines for using sweatshop labor.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:43 AM   #12
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It's very easy to impress someone when you know they are coming! BTW, why doesn't some of these audit fools actually spend at least 1 full week eating/living/sleeping in the same facilities that these people live in? Don't expect anything negative to come out in the open about these audits. It's pure Politics and meant to make Apple look good. The truth is these factories are the equivalent of modern day slavery and people spend most of the year inside them and that is why they kill themselves because they can't even see their families and they are probably not allowed to communicate with them either or their families are too damn poor to be able to afford a computer, internet access or even a telephone.

-Mike
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:44 AM   #13
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garment factories
Why compare it to garment factories? Wouldn't it be more interesting to compare against other electronics factories?

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Originally Posted by AmbitiousLemon View Post
Where is the national news coverage and public outrage about farm worker working conditions in the United States?
The difference is that Apple doesn't sell food, so there is no "Apple is evil" bandwagon that the media can jump on.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:44 AM   #14
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I would not want a bored, alienated, suffering from repetitive motion employee not making sure assembly was correct (simply switching stations every day goes a long way).
Got to remember that most of these employees are uneducated talentless people. They don't have the skills to do much else. Is this really any different then working on any assembly line, anywhere in the world? Sorry but XYZ turning a screw on the production line for Ford or Chevy, is going to experience the same thing, boredom, and repetitive motion; alienation, I don't know.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:46 AM   #15
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I've been into many factories inside China for many years (not the Foxcoon's). From the photos I see of Foxconn, they are by far the cleanest and nicest.

I think there are always workers who liked to complaint, but I'll willing to bet most of the Foxconn worker are happier to work there and may other factories. Look at the long lines applying for openings...
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:49 AM   #16
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It always annoys me that when there is a report of suicides by Foxconn employees they automatically assume it's because of 'worker conditions'.

This completely ignores the myriad of other reasons why people kill themselves: Marital Problems, Relationship Breakups, Sexual Orientation Issues (in a country where it's illegal), Gambling Debts... the list is endless, and none of which have any bearing on where they work!

And besides, if anyone bothered to investigate the story rather than knee jerk react to sensationalist headlines, they would discover that the suicide rate in China is far higher than that for Foxconn employees - which means that you are LESS likely to kill yourself if you work for Foxconn than if you don't!
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:49 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Flitzy View Post
I'm curious why everyone is singling out Apple when countless other technology companies use the same plant.

I'm also curious why when Apple actually does something while the other companies are still doing nothing, they STILL get criticized.
Easier target b/c Apple is good popcorn. It's the difference between TMZ reacting to a Lindsey Lohan DUI and <pick a B-list actor who is not a cult or retro icon> getting arrested for same.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:50 AM   #18
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I'm curious why everyone is singling out Apple when countless other technology companies use the same plant.

I'm also curious why when Apple actually does something while the other companies are still doing nothing, they STILL get criticized.
It's a conspiracy of Apple haterz.

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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:50 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by mikefla View Post
It's very easy to impress someone when you know they are coming! BTW, why doesn't some of these audit fools actually spend at least 1 full week eating/living/sleeping in the same facilities that these people live in? Don't expect anything negative to come out in the open about these audits. It's pure Politics and meant to make Apple look good. The truth is these factories are the equivalent of modern day slavery and people spend most of the year inside them and that is why they kill themselves because they can't even see their families and they are probably not allowed to communicate with them either or their families are too damn poor to be able to afford a computer, internet access or even a telephone.

-Mike
Mike, you have never been to China and see their factories. You are using your U.S. views to judge thing you only read about. I've been to China for almost 10 years and saw many much tougher working condition ACROSS all factories than what it is inside Foxconn. Get off your high horse.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:50 AM   #20
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These were not surprise inspections, so they're pretty much useless.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:52 AM   #21
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See in contrast the alternatives for the workers - are their any? Sure, make sure their needs are met, but also keep in mind, even if it is not much money according to our pay scale, Foxconn is paying way above average (too lazy to find the NYT article on that) and offers ways to work up the ladder.

We cannot compare China to USA and EU, yet. Worker Safety in the Western nations is founded on accidents and it took time to implement them as well. China will do this and it will take time. Meanwhile, we give the soon-to-be second largest population on earth to possibility to thrive and industrialize. This is also important for stability in the world because as of now, China is still behind as a whole looking at rural areas. It is growing fast though.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:52 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by AmbitiousLemon View Post
While it is encouraging to see americans worried about worker rights, and to see an american company go to such great lengths to improve working conditions at its plants in china, I find it baffling that the working conditions of Foxconn employees working on Apple products in China has resulted in public outrage across the country while our food is being picked by people in far greater oppression (often literal slavery) right here in our own country.

Where is the national news coverage and public outrage about farm worker working conditions in the United States?
Well we really want the illegal aliens to work our farms, mow our lawn because we will not do the work ourselves but we just don't want anybody to talk about it because then we just want these illegal people out of our country. It's called American Greed. Actually there is a TV show with that name. I think the problem with allot of Americans is that they are just too dumb and ignorant to really understand what's going on. And lets not forget allot of the great companies and inventions in the USA were actually the product of Immigrants, likely illegal too but back then immigration wasn't an issue. Chances are the house you live in was built by immigrants likely illegal also. Next time you open your mouth you should really think about what you are saying fellow Americans.

-Mike
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:53 AM   #23
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Wouldn't it be more interesting to compare against other electronics factories?.
Hard to do since the FLA doesn't focus on electronics firms and they are never typically audited in the first place. The only comparisons the can make are with other organizations that they audit or with what's publicly available.
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:53 AM   #24
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I feel this audit is bias since evaluators are using iPads to make their jobs easier...
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Old Feb 15, 2012, 10:54 AM   #25
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Easier target b/c Apple is good popcorn. It's the difference between TMZ reacting to a Lindsey Lohan DUI and <pick a B-list actor who is not a cult or retro icon> getting arrested for same.
thats true. Plus Apple has enough $$$ and influence to change the "normal' that has been described by the auditors.
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