When the Fair Labour Association (FLA) was sent into Apple’s manufacturing plants in Shenzhen and Chengdu to audit the premises, many likely waited with baited breath for the verdict. After all the reports released about the factories’ extremely poor working conditions, we were expecting the worst from the audits.
The verdict is in: the working conditions are actually better than those of other industries (garment factories and other locations around China were cited as examples of plants with worse working environments.)
According to Reuters in Beijing, the FLA’s president, Auret van Heerden, found the Foxconn environment to be “first class.”
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"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," van Heerden told Reuters.
His reasoning was almost fatherly: van Heerden cited the monotony of factory work and employees’ boredom as motives for the workers’ suicides, as well as the intense pressure experienced by the young workers who may have never left home before.
"So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory,” he said.
Apple, van Heerden added, took a big step in joining the labour organisation. "If Apple wanted to take the easy way out there were a whole host of options available to them,” he said. The fact that they joined the FLA shows they were really serious about raising their game."
Thirty FLA staff members will conduct interviews with factory employees over the next three weeks.