updated 01:35 pm EDT, Fri August 18, 2006
Foxconn report criticized
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has criticized Apple's recent report on possible labor abuse because it was not independently verified. The Cupertino-based company launched the investigation following reports of sweatshop-like conditions in iPod manufacturing facilities in China managed by Foxconn. "We are not impressed either by the report or by the findings of Apple," said Janek Kuczkiewicz, director of human and trade union rights at the ICFTU. Apple's team interviewed 100 workers at an iPod manufacturing plant in China, but the facility employs an estimated 30,000 workers devoted to iPod production. Apple said it also cross-checked staff logs, and visited factory floors as well as dormitories, according to the BBC. "We do not know the conditions in which the interviews were held. We have serious reservations about the report," Kuczkiewicz said.
Apple today in a statement said that it discovered no instances of forced overtime, and employees confirmed that they could decline overtime requests without penalty. Apple also said there were "overtime limit exceptions in unusual circumstances," but failed to specify the criteria for those circumstances along with the upper limit for working hours during those instances. The Cupertino-based company also failed to ask Foxconn employees whether they preferred a decent wage or minimum wage with overtime, according to the report.
"We believe it is the workers' role to monitor standards. That has not happened at the Apple plant in China," said Kuczkiewicz. "We would like to remind Apple there are other labor standards -- freedom from discrimination, freedom of association and freedom to bargain collectively."
Apple initially responded to claims of labor abuse in its iPod factories in mid-June, saying that it would look into working conditions to ensure compliance with its supplier code of conduct. Foxconn hastily denied the claims, but later admitted to enforcing unfair labor practices.