These comments are in sharp contrast to earlier reports, and not just one, either. In fact, an earlier New York Times report, nay expose, issued in late January had a decidedly different view of these facilities. Not just the NYT article, but other reports as well as human rights advocates have said previously that Foxconn’s employees are subjected to harsh and sometimes unsafe working conditions, long hours, and coerced overtime.
The company, one of Apple's most critical manufacturing partners, was hit with several suicides at its Shenzhen plant in 2010, and experienced a massive explosion that caused deaths and injuries at its Chengdu plant in 2011.
van Heerden's remarks likely came far sooner than any conclusion should have. For one, he is not a trained auditor, and for another, the FLA said the full investigation will take about three weeks, and involve interviews with 35,000 workers.
As Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium said, "Generally, in a labor rights investigation, the findings come after the evidence is gathered, not the other way around.
The WRC is a university-backed group that monitors apparel factories worldwide. While Foxconn is not involved in creating clothes, all of these types of factories based on what used to be or still are considered third-world countries are under scrutiny.
Heather White, the founder of Verite, another monitoring group, said Mr. van Heerden’s remarks appeared hasty. “That he would make any comments prior to workers being interviewed off-site in a confidential environment is somewhat premature, to say the least. He doesn’t speak Chinese and he is not a trained auditor qualified to make quick assessments.”
The FLA said an initial report --- not final --- will be released sometime in early March.