Foxconn chief Terry Gou said the supply company had been working — and spending — heavily to confront several criticisms and perceptions of its facilities in China. The Chinese factories, which assemble iPods and iPads, came under an enormous amount of scrutiny this year with the release of several stories depicting unsafe and unfair working conditions. A nearly one-month long audit confirmed that Foxconn employees were overworked and had problems with health, safety and overtime compensation. The audit also found that communication issues led to unsafe working conditions.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA), which conducted the investigation, also released a report at the time of the audit indicating that Foxconn had promised to make its factories compliant with FLA and Chinese regulations by July, 2013.
Gou said that the decision to invest in improving factory conditions was part of a larger strategy to increase the strength of Foxconn plants:
“We’ve discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength,” he said in Shanghai on Thursday. “I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs.”
It is not clear what the exact dollar amount of investment will be, or how Foxconn and Apple will divide the costs of improving the factories.
However, will the investment live up to its promise?
Consumer watchdog group SumOfUs says Gou’s announcement reveals “nothing new.”
In a statement following the announcement, SumOfUs.org Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman stated the following:
“I’m glad to hear recognition of Apple’s responsibility to improve working conditions in these factories, but there’s not much evidence of anything new in this announcement…Is Apple announcing official policy through Terry Gou now? Until we hear something new from Apple itself, speculation about whether Apple is actually following through on its commitments to improve workers’ lives is extremely premature.”
Do you think Apple is doing enough to improve factory conditions for its Foxconn workers? Let us know in the comments.
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