What's Everyone Else Doing About Labour Conditions In Factories?

Apple takes more heat for the labour practices of its suppliers than anybody, but it's largely a victim of its own success in that regard. The biggest spotlight draws the loudest critics. And as Tim Cook has repeatedly pointed out, the company really does make an effort, starting with an independent audit of Foxconn labour conditions. FWD asks an important, overlooked question: Can everyone else that outsources manufacturing to China and beyond say the same?

The answer, sadly and repeatedly, is no. That's not to say that Apple's doing everything it can to make life better for its supply chain workers. But, whether because of public pressure or not, they're almost certainly doing more than everyone else. For the full non-responses from the giants of tech, head here: [FWD]


Comments

    Ultimately, it's up to the governments of countries involved, or labour unions, to set minimum wages. Are Chinese workers for Chinese companies paid any better? I don't think so. That's competition.

      I disagree Peter. I think it should be up to the governents of the well off nations to make sure companies that fall under their laws don't take advantage of workers, regardless of where those workers are.

        If you expect workers in developing countries to be paid the same wages as those in first world countries then there would be no economic reason to hire them, and companies would hire first world workers instead. This would be great for the manufacturing industries in first world countries (although it would mean our LCD TVs are more expensive), but it would cripple developing economies and the workers would be subject to far greater poverty, and far lower working conditions.

        If you want what's best for the workers then a balance needs to be achieved between acceptable living conditions for them and wages that will make them attractive to employ. No matter which way you look at it, they would be worse off if they were unemployed.

          Please hilite the part in my post, Spool, where I said people in developing countries should be paid the same. I said they should not be taken advantage of. If a worker were to die or develop cancer from exposure to dangerous chemicals in the US or Australia, or Britan, there would be a public enquiry. A dozen people in China or Malasia die from the same thing, no one cares. These deaths need to be given the same emphasis reguradless of where they happen. The companies need to be accountable for the lives of all their employees no mater where they are. Also, the business should be held to account for the polution created to make their products. This is one place where I think a polution tax should be introduced. Not a carbon tax but a polution tax. An company moves production off shore so they don't have to abide by stringent polution regulations at home. Stop this from happening. Tax the company on all the polution produced to make the products they sell mo matter where the polution is released.

      By comparison to another industry, it's been ten years since the British and US government first set out to fix the damage done to the cocoa industry by confectionary giants like Cadbury and Nestle colluding to manipulate the price of cocoa beans. As a result of this price fixing most cocoa farms in the world are worked by child slaves, either kidnapped from refugee camps, or sold by their parents in the belief money the children earn will be sent home. The parents are then told the child has a run away or died.

      Several committees have been set up but none have achieved anything and attempts to pass laws banning confectionary companies from using slave picked cocoa beans have been defeated thanks to confectionary industry lobbyists.

      Governments should totally do something about these conditions, but in the face of companies like Sony and Cadbury and the amount of money behind them, it's almost impossible.

    Imagine if another company came in to your country and said, "No, you can't do things this way, you have to do it our way"! Who would scream the loudest? Labour laws are the legal rhelm of the country they oversee. Who's more responsible?

    Ultimately the consumer has the power. But that means being educated and taking a stand with our purchasing decisions. Thelure of cheap sneakers, fashion and consumer electronics too much for most of us though. Sadly we have little choice even if we want to though. Is there even such a thing as fair trade electronics?

    In the end we as consumers want things cheaper and unfortunately those poor people are the ones who do it for us - right or wrong it won't change until their economies are like ours, but then there'll be some other country we exploit...

    As for what TT said about taxing - it won't make a difference it just fills up the governments pockets and does nothing to help these workers or the environment i.e. carbon tax is another money grab

    +1 to both WaynevanWijk and ajling

    Apple, Samsung and the rest are just giving the customers and the shareholders what they want: cheap gear and profits. You can't have both of those and expect to keep manufacturing in a country with strong unions or labour laws that favour the worker.

    Things will ONLY change when the consumer and shareholder both vote with their wallets and support companies based on ethical business rather than afforability/profit. Somehow I don't see that happening any time soon.

    There is alot of economic non-sense here. Would you rather they had jobs - or had nothing like the majority of the population in africa? This is only a temp. situation like the western industrial revolution. The chinese labor market is cheap because there were so many poor people who normally farmed but are now moving to the cit.y. In another decade the labor pool will be exhausted and wages will rise. This has already started to happen. I don't know why people critise apple or foxcon. You do realise that they have desperate people lining up by the thousands to work in their factories? If you don't believe this take a trip to china, anywhere 200km inland will do.

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