Cited: CNN

Most of the news about Apple continues to be rosy for the tech giant, that is of course except for the recent death of its founder Steve Jobs. The stock price is soaring and every new gadget is met by hoards of techie lovers that have to be the first ones to own anything Apple, i.e. the iPad3. But along with the positive financials and popularity of their products is a report released earlier this year highlighting some shady goings-on in Apple factories overseas and working conditions that are not up to par.

Now an independent agency that Apple recently joined called the Fair Labor Association (FLA) a labor rights organization, will be doing a full inspection of the Apple suppliers and will report back soon on their findings. The main area of concern is a mega plant located in Shenzen, China called Foxxconn where the company manufactures components for all of their gadgets. The FLA plans on interviewing thousands of workers at the plants to check on working conditions, benefits, and access to medical and other professional services that were supposed to be part of their employment at Foxxconn. Apple is the most popular and most visible of all the tech companies that outsource the making of the components for their products but they are not the only ones and all have come under increased criticism lately for working conditions at the factories that do not comply with the company handbook.

For its part, Apple has always conducted its own audit of conditions at the factories and earlier this year they posted a report on their Web site that highlighted more than two dozen violations of policies meant to ensure that worker’s rights were not being trampled under in the barrage of orders flowing in for Apple products.

Apple says that they have instructed their Chinese suppliers to give the representative of FLA their complete cooperation and they say that this type of scrutiny is unprecedented in the electronics industry. However, Apple management is also well-aware that the public perception is very important and they have gone to great lengths to stress their support for worker’s rights and better working conditions in their factories producing components for their products.  One Foxxconn worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that conditions at the factory were indeed harsh. She made less than $1 per hour for her work and that the owners of the facility work the women like men and they work the men like machines.

My take:

Apple can well afford to ensure that the workers making their products are taken care of and more than that, this is a tremendous opportunity for the company to be a leader in advocating for worker’s rights overseas. Let’s face it, they, and others like them only produce over there because it is so much easier and cheaper to make a part when you can get away with paying someone less than $1 hour while at the same time not having to pay attention to labor laws, environmental regulations, restrictions on polluting the environment. Maybe it’s time for Apple to convert some of their wealth into a worthy cause that will benefit everyone, including them in the long run.

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