Transcript: 'Nightline's' Bill Weir's Interview with FLA Head Auret van Heerden on Foxconn Audit

"Nightline's" Bill Weir sits down with Auret van Heerden to discuss Foxconn.

ByABC News
March 29, 2012, 10:54 AM

March 29, 2012— -- The following is a transcript of "Nightline" anchor Bill Weir's network exclusive interview with Auret van Heerden, the president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, regarding the FLA's audit of Foxconn, one of Apple's largest suppliers.

"Nightline" anchor Bill Weir: Good to see you again, several weeks later, 4,000 miles away. So how would you characterize what you found at Foxconn?

Fair Labor Association President and CEO Auret van Heerden: We found over 50 findings. Findings are either a violation of the law or the code, or just a gap in the management system, which could-- which represents a risk, which could lead to a non-compliance in future. Pretty much par for the course, I would say, for factories in China. The hours of work issues that we found, for example, working more than 60 hours a week and working more than the Chinese legal limit on overtime. It's a common finding we have in Chinese factories.

Weir: As Americans understand the term, would you define Foxconn as "a sweatshop"?

Van Heerden: No. I think we have to be absolutely clear about that. It's a-- it's a very modern facility. And the issue is not... by stereotyping it we do ourselves absolutely no service at all. In fact we mislead ourselves. So the important thing for us was to look at it as it is, put aside all those stereotypes that we had, and start to peel the onion, actually really find-- look at what we have in front of us and hold it up to the cold light of day, and as I said.

Weir: So what are the most egregious violations being made there?

Van Heerden: Overtime. Overtime. And in some instances, overtime for interns. That's the key issue to address. Secondly the exclusion of workers from-- or the failure to integrate workers into all of the committee processes. So the health and safety committees, the union committees, workers are not participating in the elections, they're not represented on the committees, and so their voice isn't coming through and one of our most important recommendation is include workers.

Weir: Did you find any evidence of child labor?

Van Heerden: We did not.

Weir: None.

Van Heerden: No child labor. No forced labor.

Weir: A considerable number of the workers you found were concerned about their health and safety. Speak to that. What was the main concern? How frightened are these people about their own health and safety?

Van Heerden: It's very interesting perception that and we probed it quite carefully. Foxconn has got all the systems in place to take care of safety and health at work. They got the policies, the procedures, the staff are trained. We checked whether they're taking the right measurements. We checked whether the instruments are calibrated correctly. So that the hardware, if you like, of their health and safety system is in place. And they've strengthened it, they've improved it since the accidents that they had last year. It's the software that's missing. That message is not getting through to workers. They don't appreciate it. They're not aware of it. They're not involved the in decision making, not involved in the monitoring of those health and safety conditions. So there's a perception gap there. And it's very important to close that.

Weir: Right, but you do say more than 43 percent of the workers reported they have experienced or witnessed an accident. What does that say about their safety?