March 30 - The Fair Labor Association says reforms put forward by Apple and Foxconn raise the bar to a level that ''everyone else will have to meet''. Arnold Gay reports.
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The Fair Labor Association (FLA) says the labour reforms put forward by Apple and Foxconn raise the bar to a level that "everyone else will have to meet"
The FLA chief says others will be forced to match the Apple-Foxconn accord, or lose workers.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FAIR LABOR ASSOCIATION (FLA) CEO AND PRESIDENT, AURET VAN HEERDEN, SAYING:
"Given that Foxconn and Apple have now decided to raise the bar and rather dramatically improve conditions for workers, other factories are going to start losing workers. Workers are going to choose to go work at Foxconn: you work less and you get the same money and you get time to spend it. So other factories will have to raise their offer in order to be able to attract and retain workers. So in that sense we are going to see this ripple through the entire electronic sector. And, Apple and Foxconn will set the bar that everyone else will have to meet."
In a landmark development for the way Western companies do business in China, Apple and Foxconn say they will improve working conditions for Chinese workers.
Measures include reducing working hours to 49 hours per week, without pay cuts, and hiring tens of thousands more to maintain production levels.
Safety protocols, housing and other worker amenities will also be improved.
The accord came after an extensive Apple-sanctioned probe by the FLA into working conditions at the Apple supplier.
Van Heerden says multiple violations of labour law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime were found across the three Foxconn factories and 35,000 workers surveyed by the association.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FAIR LABOR ASSOCIATION (FLA) CEO AND PRESIDENT AURET VAN HEERDEN SAYING:
"We found about 50 findings, some of these are violations of the Apple code and the FLA code of conduct. Some of them are violations of the labor law and some are just areas of weakness. There're gaps in the management system which represent a risk of non compliance."
The Apple-Foxconn agreement will likely raise costs for other manufacturers who contract with the Taiwanese company, including Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, Motorola, Nokia and Sony.
It could also could result in higher prices for consumers, though the impact will be limited because labour costs are only a small fraction of the total for most high-tech devices.
But other manufacturers, like apparel makers and toy companies where labour costs contribute a bigger fraction, will face higher expenses.
Experts say even before the reforms, working conditions at Foxconn's factories are superior to many other Chinese manufacturers that supply Western companies.
Arnold Gay, Reuters.
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