Monday, February 13, 2012

Apple says first FLA inspections beginning at supplier facilities

Apple announced in January that it had joined the Fair Labor Association, which made the company the first technology firm to join the FLA as a participating member. On Monday, the company announced that it has asked the FLA to conduct special voluntary audits of Foxconn facilities in Shenzhen and Chengdu, two of Apple's more infamous third party facilities.

Shenzhen was home to most of the Foxconn employees that committed suicide in 2010, and Chengdu was where an explosion took place last year, resulting in deaths and injuries. It was later found that SACOM had reported "alarming" occupational health and safety issues at Chengdu prior to the blast.

Foxconn, and by extension Apple (although Foxconn manufactures products for many other companies) because the target of a New York Times expose that spotlighted the human cost of those cheap electronics Americans and Westerners are so fond of.

Apple's press release said that the FLA team will interview thousands of employees, inspect manufacturing facilities as welll as worker living quarters, and review the documentation of suppliers as it relates to policies and procedures.

The results of these first round audits will be published on the FLA website next month. Additional investigations later this spring will target other Apple suppliers, including Quanta and Pegatron.
Of course, it would be ideal if these inspections were held under the cover of surprise, so companies are unable to prepare their employees and make any short-term changes to hide shortcomings. It's unclear if this has been done.

It will also be interesting to see if any serious action is taken if issues are found. One thing that won't be happening: moving any of these jobs back to the U.S.

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