Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fair Labor Assn. uncovers 'tons of issues' at Apple's Foxconn manufacturing partner

FLA president Auret van Heerden has had to eat his words, and perhaps has learned a lesson about speaking too soon. Now that the Fair Labor Association has begun to truly look into Apple's Foxconn plants, inspectors have found "tons of issues,” making his early remarks of Foxconn's "first class" facilities look foolish.

Make it Yours
Van Heerden made the comments as he was en route to a meeting where FLA inspectors were scheduled to present preliminary findings to Foxconn management. He said, “We’re finding tons of issues. I believe we’re going to see some very significant announcements in the near future.”

What of his earlier comments about "first class" Foxconn facilities? Van Heerden said his comments reflected his previous interactions with Foxconn, and did not reflect any of the ongoing inspection activities at the Hon Hai subdiary's plants.

In other words: he made a mistake. Still, it's possible he was also bamboozled by Foxconn. Heather White, the founder of Verite, a workplace monitoring group, said that many violations can be difficult to detect. She said, "Those are not things one would see on a hosted tour that was planned in advance."

Van Heerden's original comments were viewed with dismay and incredulity, based on prior reports by the New York Times and numerous other organizations, such as SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour).

It's that New York Times report, as well as backlash against both Apple and Foxconn, that led the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to join FLA, as the first tech company to do so. Later, on Feb. 13, the electronics giant stated that it requested that the FLA conduct inspections of the plants owned by three of Apple's largest manufacturing partners.

FLA is expected to release an interim report on Foxconn in early March.

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