Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Harsh working conditions in Apple's Foxconn factory

The European Commission defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as "the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society." According to the Commission, in order for corporations to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities they should integrate human rights, consumer concerns - including social, environmental and ethical concerns into their business operations. [Source]. If you own an iPhone, iPad or iPod, or if you've ever heard of any of these devices, then you probably know that the multinational corporation that designs and sells them is called Apple. There are reports that one of Apple's most important manufacturing suppliers - Foxconn Technology - violates CSR standards and doesn't respect the labor rights of millions of workers in a factory in Chengdu, China.

Apple's Supplier Code of Conduct expressly requires suppliers to, amongst other things, treat workers with dignity and respect and provide safe and healthy working conditions. And Apple's auditing policy requires the company to terminate its relationship with suppliers that do not adequately address problems related to CSR within 90 days. But Foxconn continues to assemble iPads and iPhones for Apple despite reported noncompliance - year after year - to Apple's Suppliers Code of Conduct.

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the "mightiest, richest and most successful" corporations in the world. [Source]. However, the company has so far failed to ensure that human rights are respected all through its supply chain. Workers assembling iPhones, iPad and other sensational devices often reportedly work in harsh and sometimes deadly conditions.

Violations by Apple's suppliers include excessive overtime work, crowded living conditions, improper disposal of hazardous waste, falsifying records, disregard for workers' health and the use of child labor. [Source]. The following YouTube video puts into perspective the difficulties faced by workers building Apple's products in a Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China.

A more damning video report takes Foxconn to task for alleged corporate social irresponsibility.

Companies have both a legal obligation under applicable national and international laws to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities. Apple is no exception.

Addressing CSR  issues is in the interest of both Apple and the millions of vulnerable workers who power the company's success. It's therefore imperative that Apple ensures that all its partners and suppliers, including Foxconn, respect workers' rights.

Apple's products are "trendy" and many people take pride in owning one of such products - turning a blind eye on the plight of workers who produce the so-called gadgets. Consumers have a moral obligation to demand high CSR standards from corporations. In order for big corporations like Apple to stop "corporate misbehavior", it's primordial that consumers become responsible buyers.

According to a revealing story published in The New York Times on 25 January 2012, titled In China, Human Costs Are Built into An iPad, Foxconn is China's largest exporter and, with 1.2 million workers, it's one of the nation's biggest employers. Foxconn has plants throughout China and assembles electronic devices for companies like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nokia and Samsung.

*Photo of Foxconn protest: UKFast Blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search this Blog

Related Posts with Thumbnails