Foxconn have faced criticism regarding employee suicides in the last year. Apple are one of their most important partners and are trying to counter the complaints against the working conditions of the people who build their products.
Apple have joined the Fair Labor Association, which was set up in Washington in 1999 to monitor workplace environments globally. This was an initiative set up by former president Bill Clinton.
Bloomberg add “Apple’s affiliation with the FLA highlights the risk to multinational companies’ brands due to difficulties in policing suppliers as they outsource manufacturing to cut costs. Nike became a founding member of the association after reports of low pay, abuses and poor conditions at sportswear factories in Asia sparked boycotts and protests in the 1990s.
“Most big corporations have their ‘Nike moment’ at some stage — when they realize the difficulties of maintaining their standards, particularly in an increasingly global environment,” FLA President Auret van Heerden said. “The problem with the supply chain is that it’s a moving target.”
The move by Cupertino, California-based Apple will intensify scrutiny of its suppliers, including Seoul-based Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Inchon, South Korea-based Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660) The FLA makes unannounced checks on about 5 percent of its members’ supply chains each year, according to Van Heerden.”
Apple have subsequently released a list of 156 companies and an annual report on factories who make their iPhone and iPad devices. Apple held 229 audits and said there were several violations, including cases of underage labour at five facilities. Apple have told their suppliers that the young children need to return to school and to improve their management systems to ensure it wouldn’t happen. Apple also said they found a few cases of involuntary labour and have stopped working with one of the suppliers due to this.
Working conditions in 90 factories exceeded the 60 hours a week rule and some didn’t give even a single days rest for employees.
Bloomberg said in their report “Apple will now subject itself and its suppliers to the FLA’s membership criteria, including submitting to audits and enforcing a code of conduct based on standards approved by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization.”