Apple admits to having human rights issues

Apple has admitted it has a bit of a human rights problem. The problem lies not with the people employed directly by Apple, but rather with its overseas suppliers who manufacture the bulk of its products.

According to UK newspaper, The Independent, workers in the Chinese Foxconn plants that manufacture a number of Apple’s devices will, for the first time, be allowed to detail their working conditions.

The workers will be able to do so under the auspices of an investigation by the Fair Labour Association.

In the last couple of years, stories have emerged from the plants of workers committing suicide because of the inhumane conditions they were forced to work under.

These conditions were the focus of an in-depth expose by The New York Times, which saw some players in the States calling for a boycott of Apple products.

According to The New York Times, some Foxconn employees earn less than US$17 a day and were forced into working under extreme conditions.

In one incident described by the newspaper, Apple reportedly needed the iPhone screen revamped at the last moment, forcing an assembly line overhaul:

A foreman immediately roused 8 000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10 000 iPhones a day.

In an attempt to move away from this kind of publicity, Apple recently announced that it was going fair trade. As part of this, it disclosed the identities of 156 of its suppliers for the first time.

It claims this decision allowed it to become “the first technology company admitted to the FLA”.

The FLA investigation will reportedly “independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said CEO Tim Cook.

The FLA was established in 1999 and evolved out of a task force created by President Bill Clinton that came together to end the use of child labour and other sweatshop practices in apparel and footwear factories

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