Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.
In response to a wide array of issues discovered by the Fair Labor Association, Apple and Foxconn have entered into an agreement to improve working conditions at the Chinese manufacturer’s plants, reports Reuters. The pledge covers things like safety conditions, maximum number of working hours and overtime compensation.
The agreement between the two companies will have widespread effects outside of their own partnership, however. Foxconn also contracts with companies like Dell, HP, Amazon, Motorola Mobility, Nokia and Sony. Any increases in costs that come about from this agreement will likely spread to these other companies as well, possibly meaning cost increases for devices from these manufacturers.
FLA President Auret van Heerden told Edwin Chan at Reuters that “Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they’re teaming up to drive this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector.”
Foxconn has pledged to reduce working hours to 49 per week, hire tens of thousands of new workers to compensate for those lost hours, build housing and canteens for those workers. Because labor costs are only a fraction of the overall costs of devices from these manufacturers, the boost in consumer prices likely won’t be major.
“We think empowering workers and helping them understand their rights is essential,” said Apple in a statement today. “Our team has been working for years to educate workers, improve conditions and make Apple’s supply chain a model for the industry, which is why we asked the F.L.A. to conduct these audits.”
At a conference last month, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said that “No one is doing more to improve working conditions in China than Apple,” but that the company could, and would, do more.
Apple had asked the FLA late last year to investigate the working conditions at its suppliers in China. After initially stating that Apple had corrected many issues and that Foxconn’s facilities weren’t all that bad, the head of the FLA said that there were ‘tons of issues‘. Now, the report is here and the issues were bad enough to spark a renewed investigation of how Foxconn treats its workers, which is nothing but a good thing.
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