Apple Foxconn Investigation: Serious Worker Rights Issues Reported, Major Changes For Chinese Workers Promised


Health and Safety Concerns

This audit was partly prompted by two explosions at two factories in Chengdu last year, in which 77 workers were injured and four were killed. Workers reported that they are worried about their safety and health, especially after the explosions.

With over 43 percent of workers reporting that they have experienced or seen an accident, Foxconn said it is now committed to more closely monitoring health and safety issues. A number of health and safety violations, including blocked exits and protective equipment have already been remedied.

Foxconn said it is also taking steps to bring workers into the conversation. It has agreed to "enhance workers' participation in committees and other union structures," says the report.

In line with what ABC News Nightline exclusively reported in February, the FLA report says that no issues of child labor, forced labor or payment of the legal minimum wage were discovered at the factories. The FLA said it had "unfettered access" within the factories.

Apple and Next Steps

Apple's promises are not detailed directly in the report, but in a statement the company said it will comply with the FLA's recommendations.

"Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple's supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the FLA to conduct these audits," Apple told ABC News. "We share the FLA's goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere."

However, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, the Founder and President of SumOfUs, an actvist group based in Washington, DC, says Apple's made these promises before. "The promises are empty until we see actual improvement in workers lives."

Stinebrickner-Kauffman also called attention to the July 2013 date. "Foxconn will be breaking the law for the next 15 months. If Foxconn can't hire workers quick enough, Apple would just have to reduce demand. We shouldn't be buying things that are produced illegally."

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been in China all week, meeting with local business as well as visiting Foxconn. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs never visited China or Foxconn when he was CEO of the company.

Still, Van Heerden said he is confident that Foxconn will make the changes recommended in the report. "I know they will do this because we will monitor it. And they have made this commitment publicly now. It is such a high profile and major commitment, there is no way they wouldn't do it."

The full text of the report can be found on the Fair Labor Association's website.

Full Disclosure: Apple and the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News, have strong ties. Disney CEO Bob Iger serves on the Apple Board of Directors.

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