If you’ve been following Apple related news, you’ll know that there’s recently been a lot of talk about the working conditions in the factories of Apple’s suppliers. Last year, several Foxconn employees committed suicide, and there’s been more than one explosion that endangered employee lives.
Furthermore, employees in the factories work long hours for minimal pay, but according to new information released from the Fair Labor Association, Apple’s iPad plant has been deemed “way, way above average of the norm.”
Those words are straight from the mouth of Fair Labor Association (FLA) president Auret Van Heerden, who spoke to Reuters after inspectors first visited the Foxconn factory in question. Heerden also had this to say:
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.
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.
Tim Cook himself weighed in on conditions at Apple’s supply factories at Tuesday’s investor conference:
No one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple. We think the use of underage labor is abhorrent. If we find a supplier that intentionally hires underage labor, it’s a firing offense.
While Apple’s Foxconn factory conditions are better than those at other facilities, there’s still quite a bit more investigating that needs to take place before a final conclusion can be reached. FLA officials are planning to visit other Apple supply facilities, including Quanta Computer Inc, Pegatron Corp, Wintek Corp, and others.
Apple may be the best of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean that even the best is acceptable. A rotten apple that’s less rotten than other apples is still, at its core, rotten. Of course, tough work conditions can be attributed more to labor expectations in China than a problem with Apple.
It is clear, though, that Apple is committed to providing the best factory conditions that it can. Companies that are part of the FLA are forced to abide by rigorous commitments. “Apple didn’t need to join the FLA,” said Van Heerden. “The FLA system is very tough. It involves unannounced visits, complete access, public reporting. If Apple wanted to take the easy way out there were a whole host of options available to them. The fact that they joined the FLA show that they were really serious about raising their game.”