We reported earlier this week that Apple joined with the Fair Labor Association to perform independent audits on the Foxconn facilities where iPads are manufactured. The preliminary results are in and it may surprise you.
Reuters reports that the FLA president, Auret van Heerden, made some initial comments regarding his visit to the Foxconn facility. He found the facility to be “first class” and that the “physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm.”
"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory. 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."
We reported last month that there was a mass suicide threat at one of the Foxconn facilities that caused quite a ruckus. This event and other reports of worker abuse led to the petition that may have had a part in Apple joining the FLA.
The FLA has seen worker suicides from China since the 1990s. The cause seems to stem from culture shock more than anything:
"You have lot of young people, coming from rural areas, away from families for the first time. They're taken from a rural into an industrial lifestyle, often quite an intense one, and that's quite a shock to these young workers.”
He added that these workers require an emotional support that the factories do not provide them.
The FLA staff will be visiting two Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and one in Chengdu. Over the next three weeks, about 35,000 workers will be asked questions about their working conditions. In either an ironic or patronizing twist, the questionnaires will be filled out on iPads.
All joking aside, the iPads will be used to upload and compile the data instantly so they can get the audit results out to the general public at some point in March.
Apple did a good thing by joining the FLA. Let’s hope their supply lines are just as good.