Earlier this week, Apple announced that it had requested that the Fair Labor Association inspect its suppliers' factories in Asia. The move followed heightened criticism over how these manufacturing plants were treating the people that were assembling products from numerous big-name companies, including Apple. However, despite reports of worker mistreatment, it seems the staff at Foxconn enjoy above average working conditions. At least, that's what the Fair Labor Association says.
Though the agency will not be releasing full details of its inspections until sometime next month, the FLA has said that the conditions at the factories are better than those at garment factories or other facilities in China. Reuters cites FLA President Auret van Heerden as saying the conditions at Foxconn are "way, way above average." The head of the Fair Labor Association goes on to suggest that 'the problems' at Foxconn can probably be attributed to boredom and monotony rather than a high-pressure work environment.
"The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," Heerden said. "I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he said. "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."
Speaking of incidents of employees committing suicide, Heerden said that it's something Foxconn has been dealing with since the 90s. He says that the change from a rural lifestyle and leaving their families can be quite stressful for workers, and adds that the support employees need to help them deal with this drastic lifestyle change was not always in place because factories didn't initially realize it was needed.
Though the FLA speaks positively about the conditions at Foxconn, Reuters' report notes that FLA personnel used iPads during their inspections. In response to questions that the FLA may give Apple favorable reports, the non-profit organization said that the FLA system is "very tough" and involves unannounced visits, complete access, as well as public reporting. President Heerden dismissed the notion that Apple joined the FLA to counter the bad press regarding worker treatment. He said if Apple "wanted to take the easy way out," it could have chosen from a 'whole host of options' available.
The FLA will be releasing a full report on its inspections at Apple's suppliers and factories next month.