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'Nightline' report to go inside Apple supplier Foxconn

Tuesday's 'Nightline' report will interview Foxconn employees about suicides and poor conditions

Technology trends and news by Nathan Pensky
February 20, 2012
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2471

Apple's shadowy manufacuting supplier, Foxconn of southern China, will be getting a close-up come this Tuesday, when a special ABC Nightline news report will go inside one of the Apple supplier's factories for a in-depth look.

As a part of ongoing efforts by Apple to purge the sketchy reputation surrounding its main supplier, Apple invited ABC's Nightline correspondent Bill Weir into a Foxconn factory for a news report to be broadcast Tuesday, February 21. Weir will interview a company advisor, questioning him about everything from factory explosions to the mass employee suicides.

One surprise from the teaser trailer for tomorrow's report, up to 3,000 Chinese men and women crowd around Foxconn doors on a daily basis, hoping to be hired to worm in the factory for only $1.78 per hour.

Images of workers clamouring over positions in the Foxconn factories, as shown on the already released ABC footage, is in stark contrast to other reports coming out of the factories. Six worker suicides were committed in 2010 on Foxconn factory floors, with many citing poor working conditions and low pay as contributing factors.

Revelations about poor working conditions have been surfacing ever since these suicides were reported, and Apple has since submitted itself to a record number of audits and investigations by the Fair Labor Association (FLA). 

Among the violations practiced by those in the Apple supply chain, including component suppliers and final assembly, as listed in Apple's audit report, there were breaches in pay and benefits for workers, environmental waste and disposal violations, and unsafe machinery.

Apple also found instances of underage workers in five of its suppliers, and subsequently required these suppliers to encourage the young workers to return to school and add age-verification systems to their hiring process. Over 90 factories were found that had workers exceeding 60 hours of work per week, with only one day of rest. Evidence of anti-discrimination rule violation against workers who were pregnant or had Hepatitis B were also found, and Apple made these companies cease such activity.

Apple and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) announced last week that they would join in an unprecedented investigation into the company's supply and manufacturing line in response to continued outcry over reported unfair working conditions, notably labor infractions in Foxconn.

The FLA will independently assess practices along Apple's supply chain and report detailed findings on its website, said the organization in the release. Last week's announcement marks the first time a major technology corporation has joined the association as a Participating Company.

Participating companies agree to uphold the FLA's code of conduct, designed to enforce fair conditions for workers along the supply chain.

Apple's compliance with the FLA comes after weeks of news reports on the subject amid consumer concerns on reports that workers were being treated unfairly. For example, a global petition that Apple investiagte these claims, organized by change.org, gained 250,000 signatures in a week.

Apple indicated Monday that the FLA began the process of interviewing thousands of employees, inspecting manufacturing areas and dormitories, and doing extensive review of documents relating to employment.

Those violations allegedly practiced down the Apple supply chain were listed in Apple's audit report from January 2012, which included breaches in pay and benefits for workers, environmental waste and disposal violations, and unsafe machinery.

Given all the controversy surrounding Foxconn, and as well Apple's otherwise sterling reputation in the tech industry, we're thinking tomorrow's Nightline report will be a must-see.


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