updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed August 30, 2006
iPod story lawsuit
Apple is working to resolve a dispute between its iPod manufacturing partner Foxconn and two local Chinese journalists who have been sued for running a story on alleged labor abuses. Foxconn earlier this week successfully petitioned a Court to freeze the personal assets of a reporter and editor at China Business News as part of its lawsuit against the reporters for damages caused by the allegedly false report. The Taiwanese-owned Foxconn filed a defamation lawsuit against two journalists working for the state-run newspaper CBN who ran stories alleging that workers on iPod assembly lines worked under harsh conditions for low pay, although a similar report was published by a UK-based publication several days earlier. The move prompted a journalists' advocacy group to post an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, asking for his help to mediate the dispute.
Apple yesterday confirmed that it is working to resolve the dispute, but gave no additional details: "Apple is working behind the scenes to help resolve this issue," an Apple spokesman Jill Tan told the The Age.
Reporters Without Borders, a group dedicated to protecting the freedom of the press around the world, yesterday posted an open letter to Jobs, asking him to intercede with its subcontractor in China, Foxconn, and get it to drop its lawsuit.
"We believe than all Wang and Weng did was report the facts and we condemn Foxconn’s reaction," Robert Ménard, the Secretary-General, wrote in the letter. "We therefore ask you to intercede on behalf of these two journalists so that their assets are unfrozen and the lawsuit is dropped."
While Foxconn denied virtually all of the allegations of labor abuse, both Apple and Foxconn are working to address several violations of Apple's Code of Conduct for suppliers, following an internal Apple investigation into the matter.
Apple also said it would audit all of its other iPod and Mac manufacturing facilities by the end of the year.
[Worker image via Mail on Sunday]