Photo: Daniel Berehulack / Getty Images
Keith Bradsher and Charles Duhigg at The New York Times recently reported a big story on the improving conditions at Foxconn and other factories in China.
The article is the newest addition to the newspaper’s long-standing investigation into the “iEconomy” – which has been highly critical of working conditions at places like Foxconn and faulted companies like Apple for not doing enough.
Here are the 8 most interesting takeaways from the article, but you should read the whole thing because it is a nuanced issue and a well written story:
- Foxconn has announced that by July 2013 no employee can work more than an average of 49 hours a week, in accordance with Chinese labour laws. And over the past year the company has raised wages and made improvements to factory conditions.
- Major media’s negative reporting on working conditions at Foxconn and the public’s attention and response to it have made the issue a priority for Apple, Foxconn, and other companies in the industry.
- The “quality-of-life” improvements that many companies demand are expected to come at cost to the supplier – suppliers think the companies should pay more – this has been a source of tension between companies like Apple and Foxconn.
- Foxconn CEO and founder Terry Guo is taking an active role in making the labour reforms happen, despite having a reputation as a major road block to these efforts in the past.
- Some workers actually don’t want all of the new reforms, especially limits on overtime.
- Apple has made significant improvements to its corporate social responsibility commitments. It tripled its corporate social responsibility staff and put past executives in charge. It started more active involvement in monitoring conditions at Foxconn factories. It joined the Fair labour Association and released the names of many of its suppliers for the first time last January.
- BUT, Apple IS NOT taking the kind of corporate social responsibility leadership role that Nike, Gap, or Patagonia have in their industry and seems more focused on its own changes and not changing the industry.
- Conditions at Quanta, a smaller Taiwanese electronics manufacturer used by Hewlett-Packard (HP also uses Foxconn), are more transparent and conditions better than Foxconn. Campuses at Quanta include a free movie theatre, television rooms, a large martial arts gym, two karaoke bars, a big cafeteria, and an aerobics room.
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