Apple, Foxconn better than most, labor group says

Factories that make Apple’s iPad and iPhone are better than most, the Fair Labor Association said today.

After an initial inspection of Foxconn Technology Group facilities in China, FLA president Auret van Heerden said the conditions are “better than average.”

As Apple stock broke the $500 barrier, critics accused the telecommunications giant of profiting from sweatshop labor.

“I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory,” he said, Reuters reported. “So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.”

FLA will also tour Apple suppliers including Quanta Computer Inc., Pegatron Corp, Wintek Corp before presenting a report later this year.

More from GlobalPost: Apple asks Fair Labor Association to inspect Foxconn

Foxconn became the lightning rod for criticism because of frequent employee suicides. In reaction, Apple joined FLA and released a list of suppliers and knowledge it had of human rights violations, Bloomberg News said.

Apple also received a petition signed by 250,000 people demanding the Cupertino, Calif., giant introduce a worker protection strategy, Bloomberg said.

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his company’s pledge to employee safety, Information Week reported.

“The first thing that I would want everyone to know is that Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously, and we have for a very long time,” he told the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. “Whether workers are in Europe or in Asia or in the United States, we care about every worker.”

President Bill Clinton started FLA in 1999 to help end sweatshop labor around the world. Companies such as Nike, Adidas and Nestle participate, Reuters said. The group mandates surprise visits and access to inspectors as well as public disclosure.

“If Apple wanted to take the easy way out there were a whole host of options available to them,” van Heerden said. “The fact that they joined the FLA shows they were really serious about raising their game.”

GlobalPost Special Report: Silicone Sweatshops

The World Listener Survey 2024

We’d love to hear your thoughts on The World. Please take our 5-min. survey.