On Monday, Apple Inc. announced that the company has requested the Fair Labor Association to make “special voluntary audits” of the facilities of several of its assembly suppliers including Foxconn. Recently, Foxconn came under heavy criticisms for allegations of mistreatment of workers at its factories in China.
Apple Inc. made it clear in a published statement that the FLA would be interviewing thousands of workers and “will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment.”
Foxconn facilities in the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Shenzhen are first in line for the investigation, and after that facilities of other suppliers like Quanta and Pegatron may also be audited.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple stated, “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers.”
Apple also announced that its “suppliers have pledged full cooperation with the FLA.”
The request for an investigation by the FLA seems to be in response to the recent spate of reports on unsafe and horrific working conditions at the huge facilities in China owned by Foxconn.
As reported by the Associated Press, there were so many suicides in Foxconn’s Shenzen plant in 2010 that plant managers had to install nets to prevent workers from killing themselves and escaping from their predicament of keeping on assembling iPhones and iPads under hellish conditions.
The situation was recently highlighted in a January episode of This American Life, a popular radio program hosted by Ira Glass. The report found support in later reports by The New York Times and the CNN.
Foxconn has severely disputed all allegations. Foxconn is also one of the biggest assembly suppliers of Microsoft, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
The power of the internet in facing big business is proved once again as Apple takes appeasement tactics following a petition on Change.org that asked Apple to “Protect Workers making iPhones in Chinese Factories,” backed by 200,000 signatures. SumOfUs.org sent another petition to Apple backed by over 60,000 signatures asking Apple to oversee that the “iPhone 5” followed ethical manufacture.