Apple responds to allegations of voluntary ignorance by fueling an “unprecedented” investigation into working conditions at one of its largest, most infamous suppliers.
Foxconn, the controversial series of Chinese factories responsible for producing many of Apple’s gizmos, as well as all three current-gen consoles, is currently being investigated by the Fair Labor Association at the behest of Apple. As the largest private employer in all of China, Foxconn has had more than its share of controversies and, Apple, now worth more than Google and Microsoft combined, will no longer turn a blind eye to its allegedly terrible working conditions.
The inspections follow last month’s New York Times investigation that quoted numerous former Apple execs explaining the company’s purported informal policy of ignorance. Many claimed that in Apple’s view, business is cheaper and easier when simply ignoring the plight of the unseen employees than shifting production and finding new suppliers. In response to these allegations, the Fair Labor Association will, at Apple’s request, send voluntary auditors through the facilities in Shenzhen and Chengu, two Foxconn factories responsible for final assembly.
“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, “which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers. The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”
As part of the investigations, thousands of workers will be asked about their working and living conditions, safety, pay, and ability to communicate with their superiors. Whatever the FLA brings back, be it a glowing approval or dire condemnation, will be posted on Apple’s website in March for the world to see and judge for themselves.