Consumer watchdog organisations are screaming over Apple’s worker conditions. And rightly so. But why leave Microsoft off the hook?John Grgurich at The Motley Fool points out that when Foxconn workers hit one of their low points, they were working for Microsoft, not Apple.
In 2010, 12 Foxconn workers committed suicide, and in early January of this year up to 200 workers at a Foxconn factory threatened mass suicide over workplace conditions. … The employees recently threatening suicide were making Microsoft’s Xbox, a product the tech stalwart is counting on to revive its tech credibility and keep it relevant to the next generation.”
Microsoft did look into the matter and said that the protest was not about worker conditions but about “staffing assignments and transfer policies” at the Wuhan facility, where Foxconn reportedly manufactures the Xbox game console. Apparently, the Xbox line was being shut down and Foxconn had planned to lay off workers while backing out of owed worker pay.
We may not be talking about severed fingers here, but the bigger point is that Apple isn’t the only company using Foxconn. Foxconn does contract manufacturing for a whole bunch of them. Nokia just cut its workforce by 4,000 to ship more work to China and other Asian facilities. After the initial suicides in 2010 were announced, HP and Dell promised to investigate the worker situation, too.
There may be good reasons why iPhone users are beating Apple up. After protester groups marched on the company earlier this month, Apple promised that the Fair labour Association would “conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request.”
As nice as that sounds, protesters were not pleased, as they say that the FLA “is funded and controlled by the same companies it is supposed to be monitoring,” said Taren Stinkebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs, in a press release.
So maybe it’s time to pressure Microsoft into stepping up with monitoring efforts of its own.