After a report from CNN indicated that working conditions at a Foxconn factory that assembles iPads may be less than ideal, Apple has pledged to “protect every worker in its worldwide supply chain.” The subject of the report with pseudonym “Miss Chen” indicated that she works over 60 hours per week with benefits and sick leave being made available to other, more senior employees.
Chen went on to describe how she was promised all manner of things before taking the position in the factory but that the reality was much different. When CNN started investigating, Apple issued the following statement:
“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing products wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple.”
Foxconn should be concerned when employees like Chen are reporting that they don’t even have time to go home given they need to sleep and eat at work, because Apple doesn’t like to be embarrassed and I would expect that their continued business is pretty meaningful to them.
With reports indicating that these are the “human costs” that go into the production of an iPad there are questions surrounding just how accountable Apple should be for these kinds of working conditions. Some accusations say Apple has known that these problems exist and does nothing while others say that this is the norm in overseas factories and that it shouldn’t be seen as a problem just because it wouldn’t be tolerated by North American workers (the latter of which seems a little ridiculous, honestly).
Apple CEO Tim Cook denies that the company was aware of the employee abuse and is quick to point out that they recently joined the Fair Labor Association which puts their entire supply chain up for review –would seem like a silly move for a company that was trying to hide something.