John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple Orders Foxconn Labor Inspections

With outcry growing over working conditions at some of its overseas manufacturing partners, Apple is taking a more socially responsible stance on the matter. In January, it became the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Today, it announced that the FLA, at its request, has begun auditing labor conditions at factories where iPhones and iPads are built.

This morning, a team of labor rights experts began inspections of Foxconn, a manufacturer that has been plagued with employee suicides and, last year, an explosion that killed four workers at its plant in Chengdu, China. The audits will cover the broad spectrum of working and living conditions at the manufacturer — health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. Thousands of employees are to be interviewed and, according to Apple, the FLA will have unrestricted access to Foxconn’s manufacturing areas, as well as employee dormitories.

“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “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.”

When completed, the FLA’s inspections will cover factories where more than 90 percent of Apple’s products are built. So, another step forward for labor rights — assuming that these audits have teeth, and that Foxconn is held accountable for whatever violations and issues the FLA turns up. And who knows, perhaps it will pressure other companies to implement similar measures. Apple isn’t the only consumer electronics company using offshore labor. Hear that HP? Dell?

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work