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Apple releases results of iPod factory probe

post #1 of 28
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http://www.apple.com/hotnews/ipodreport/

Update from Apple
post #2 of 28
Cripes, no more than 60 hrs a week, and at least one day off per week??

I've gotta move to China. \
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post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcharna

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/ipodreport/

Update from Apple

Wow.

I am very pleased with this response and impressed that Apple have been open and delivered a detailed report to the public.

They've still a way to go but it is pleasing to read that they are moving in the right direction.
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post #4 of 28
Asia has a very different work ethic/attitude towards work than the US and other western countries. China is probably a little further out there, but the reading does not really surprise me. In Japan, it is common for a man to put in 2-3 and sometimes 4 hours of overtime every day (he cannot leave the office before his manager even if there is nothing to be done except sit around looking busy until the manager leaves). This comes to a 50 to 60 hour week in five days and it is not unheard of for people to work a sixth day. Don't forget the voluntary (read: don't show and you're fired) dinner and drinking parties that last late into the evening several times a week. I teach junior high school and some of my students only see their fathers on Sunday (he is gone before they get up and comes home after they have gone to bed). Even on Sunday, they only see him after the weekly office voluntary (see above) round of golf. The school I teach at (just an average junior/senior high) has classes six days a week; most teachers are at their desks by 7:15am and only the rare, and often looked down upon, teacher leaves campus before 6:00pm, making a 10-plus hour day. At the high level schools, teachers are there until 9:00pm or later.

Not that I am saying this is good or bad. It is just very different from what westerners are used to.

 

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post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Asia has a very different work ethic/attitude towards work than the US and other western countries. China is probably a little further out there, but the reading does not really surprise me. In Japan, it is common for a man to put in 2-3 and sometimes 4 hours of overtime every day (he cannot leave the office before his manager even if there is nothing to be done except sit around looking busy until the manager leaves). This comes to a 50 to 60 hour week in five days and it is not unheard of for people to work a sixth day. Don't forget the voluntary (read: don't show and you're fired) dinner and drinking parties that last late into the evening several times a week. I teach junior high school and some of my students only see their fathers on Sunday (he is gone before they get up and comes home after they have gone to bed). Even on Sunday, they only see him after the weekly office voluntary (see above) round of golf. The school I teach at (just an average junior/senior high) has classes six days a week; most teachers are at their desks by 7:15am and only the rare, and often looked down upon, teacher leaves campus before 6:00pm, making a 10-plus hour day. At the high level schools, teachers are there until 9:00pm or later.

Not that I am saying this is good or bad. It is just very different from what westerners are used to.

Curious Berg, do you think this is responsible for the drop in births in that country? I understand they face an even bigger crisis in funding retirement and social services for their senior citizens than we do here in the states.
post #6 of 28
Good question. Many of the older generation (just after WWII) worked really hard but still managed to make lots of babies. However, there has been a shift in society allowing women to take on more roles outside the home, so more women are choosing to work and thus marry later and have fewer children. If I am not wrong, the population has actually decreased this past year. All of this, including a greater independence within the family, ie, the children no longer have to take care of their parents in old age, means a great burden is coing on to the healthcare system. Already where I live almost 1 in 3 people are over 65, and some of the schools I mentioned are having a real tough time finding students. In the long run, lots of social changes and pressures are likely to occur.

Wonder how trhinggs are playing out in China where there is the one-child law (ha) and male babies are preferred (females are often murdered).

 

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post #7 of 28
Apple Computer on Thursday released the results of its investigation into the working conditions at Foxconn, one of its Taiwanese manufacturing partners commissioned to build iPod digital music players and Mac desktop computers.

Apple initiated the probe about eight weeks ago, after the UK's Mail on Sunday published a detailed report from inside the factories, which included allegations of worker mistreatment and substandard living conditions.

"Like many of you, we were concerned by reports in the press a few weeks ago alleging poor working and living conditions at a manufacturing facility in China where iPods are assembled," Apple wrote in its report.

The company said its Supplier Code of Conduct mandates that suppliers of Apple products follow specific rules designed to safeguard human rights, worker health and safety, and the environment. "We take any deviation from these rules very seriously," Apple said.

The investigation, which spanned over 1200 person-hours and covered over one million square feet of facilities, focused on the areas of labor standards, working and living environment, compensation, overtime and worker treatment.

Apple said an audit team interviewed over 100 randomly selected employees representing a cross-section of line workers (83%), supervisors (9%), executives (5%), and other support personnel (3%) including security guards and custodians. "They visited and inspected factory floors, dormitories, dining halls, and recreation areas," Apple said. "The team also reviewed thousands of documents including personnel files, payroll data, time cards, and security logs."

Overall, Apple said it found Foxconn to be in compliance in the majority of the areas audited. However, the company did find some violations of its Code of Conduct, as well as other areas that it believed could be improved.

Specifically, Apple said it was not satisfied with the living conditions of three of the off-site leased dorms its audit team visited. The buildings were reportedly converted by Foxconn during a period of rapid growth and have served as interim housing ever since.

Dormitory at Foxconn's E3 factory | Image copyright Mail on Sunday.

"Two of the dormitories, originally built as factories, now contain a large number of beds and lockers in an open space, and from our perspective, felt too impersonal," Apple said. "The third contained triple-bunks, which in our opinion didnt provide reasonable personal space."

To address housing situation, Foxconn has acquired additional land and is currently building new dormitories -- plans that were apparently in place prior to Apple's audit, which will increase the total employee living space by 46 percent during the next four months.

The investigation also found that all workers earn at least the local minimum wage, and that a sample audit of payroll records showed that more than half were earning above minimum wage. However, Apple said Foxconn's employee pay structure was unnecessarily complex.

"An employees wage was comprised of several elements (base pay, skill bonus, attendance bonus, housing allowance, meal allowance, overtime), making it difficult to understand and communicate to employees," Apple wrote. "This structure effectively failed to meet our Code of Conduct requirement that how workers are paid must be clearly conveyed."

Similarly, Apple was also unsatisfied in learning that employees worked longer hours than permitted by its Code of Conduct, which limits normal workweeks to 60 hours and requires at least one day off each week.

"We reviewed seven months of records from multiple shifts of different productions lines and found that the weekly limit was exceeded 35 percent of the time and employees worked more than six consecutive days 25 percent of the time," the company said. "Although our Code of Conduct allows overtime limit exceptions in unusual circumstances, we believe in the importance of a healthy work-life balance and found these percentages to be excessive."

In remedying these issues, Foxconn has since implemented a simplified pay structure and enacted a policy change to enforce the weekly overtime limits set by Apple's Code of Conduct.

Military-style drills on the roof top at Foxconn | Image copyright Mail on Sunday.

In terms of worker treatment, Apple said two employees interviewed by its audit team reported that they had been disciplined by being made to stand at attention. While Apple did not find this practice to be widespread, the company said it has a zero tolerance policy for any instance, isolated or not, of any treatment of workers that could be interpreted as harsh. As a result of this finding, Foxconn is said to have launched an aggressive manager and employee training program to ensure such behavior does not occur in the future.

Going forward, Apple has enlisted the services of Verité, an internationally recognized leader in workplace standards, to ensure that its manufacturing partners around the world are in compliance with its Code of Conduct.

By the end of the year, Apple said it will complete audits of all final assembly suppliers of its Mac and iPod products.

"Apple is committed to the highest standard of social responsibility in everything we do and will always take necessary action accordingly," the company said. "We are dedicated to ensuring that working conditions are safe and employees are treated with respect and dignity wherever Apple products are made."

An unedited copy of Apple's report on the subject is available with additional details.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Asia has a very different work ethic/attitude towards work than the US and other western countries. China is probably a little further out there, but the reading does not really surprise me. In Japan, it is common for a man to put in 2-3 and sometimes 4 hours of overtime every day (he cannot leave the office before his manager even if there is nothing to be done except sit around looking busy until the manager leaves). This comes to a 50 to 60 hour week in five days and it is not unheard of for people to work a sixth day. Don't forget the voluntary (read: don't show and you're fired) dinner and drinking parties that last late into the evening several times a week. I teach junior high school and some of my students only see their fathers on Sunday (he is gone before they get up and comes home after they have gone to bed). Even on Sunday, they only see him after the weekly office voluntary (see above) round of golf. The school I teach at (just an average junior/senior high) has classes six days a week; most teachers are at their desks by 7:15am and only the rare, and often looked down upon, teacher leaves campus before 6:00pm, making a 10-plus hour day. At the high level schools, teachers are there until 9:00pm or later.

Not that I am saying this is good or bad. It is just very different from what westerners are used to.

You're right about that. Husbands come home very late, and aren't expected to help with the house, or raising the children.
post #9 of 28
"audits of all final assembly suppliers of its Mac and iPod products"

This is good--don't just investigate the one that was noticed, be extra thorough with ALL facilities. Good for Apple.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Good question. Many of the older generation (just after WWII) worked really hard but still managed to make lots of babies. However, there has been a shift in society allowing women to take on more roles outside the home, so more women are choosing to work and thus marry later and have fewer children. If I am not wrong, the population has actually decreased this past year. All of this, including a greater independence within the family, ie, the children no longer have to take care of their parents in old age, means a great burden is coing on to the healthcare system. Already where I live almost 1 in 3 people are over 65, and some of the schools I mentioned are having a real tough time finding students. In the long run, lots of social changes and pressures are likely to occur.

The younger generation is very disenchanted. They expect the lifetime job that is now almost gone. If someone is let go, it is very difficult for them to get another job.

As in Europe, college grads are finding it to be difficult to get a job at all.

Quote:
Wonder how trhinggs are playing out in China where there is the one-child law (ha) and male babies are preferred (females are often murdered).

Factories are finding it to be more difficult to get workers. Conditions in the countryside have gotten somewhat better, and cheap labor is not migrating to the cities as it was.

This is really tough to understand, as much farmland is disappearing from droughts, and pollution from coal powerplants, and factories.

Not that many female children get killed anymore, because unlicensed sonogram vans go around examining pregnent women. Sometimes if the fetus is determined to be female, it is aborted. also, in many villages, if the first child is a female, the couple can have another.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Asia has a very different work ethic/attitude towards work than the US and other western countries. China is probably a little further out there, but the reading does not really surprise me.

Um, I don't think it's the work ethic in iPod City ("Must make many iPods for Steve!") so much as the conditions attendant on being a developing country. The United States was barely any different when it was industrializing.
post #12 of 28
I think it's nice that Apple did an investigation and changed things.

Judging from the fact that foxconn was planning on making changes anyway, it's likely that they simply were having troubles expanding facilities fast enough to keep up with the need for employees.

It went from 3 million units to 6 million in 1 quarter IIRC. No company in the world could change that quickly.
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post #13 of 28
bergermeister is certainly correct about typical working hours in other parts of japan. i'm here too and see it enough. however, as for reasons for the drop in birthrate i think that the lack of affordable daycare (sadly, there seems to be an unwillingness to grant visas to qualified and willing nannies from korea/china) combined with the highly consumerist society (many people are obsessed with designer goods and many couples are unwilling to give up their luxury goods in order to pay for children) are also very significant factors
post #14 of 28
I'm told that the average american businessman, whatever that means, puts in more hours than his Japanese counterpart. But that is neither here nor there. What I am truly pleased about is how this issue of workers' rights was handled in the private sector. It is a good thing.
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post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Wonder how trhinggs are playing out in China where there is the one-child law (ha) and male babies are preferred (females are often murdered).

There was a recent article about the male-to-female ratio in China due to their shortsighted 1 child policy. It has been reported that some people have been kidnapping girls to "secure" a bride for their sons.

There are also theories regarding social phenomena such as rioting, social discontent and war-like tendencies due to the unavailability of brides for young males. This was the case in Afghanistan, I can only imagine the potential social explosion of anger in 10-20 years in China.

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post #16 of 28
It appears it's not good enough. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said the report should have been independently verified. They were far from impressed by the report and the fact that Apple selected 100 (out of 30,000) people to interview

The Controversy Continues: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5262110.stm
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post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel

I'm told that the average american businessman, whatever that means, puts in more hours than his Japanese counterpart. But that is neither here nor there. What I am truly pleased about is how this issue of workers' rights was handled in the private sector. It is a good thing.

I think what kills the Japanese worker is their top-down management style.

I've been in videoconference meetings with a Japanese manager in Japan who was literally banging his hands on the table insisting that an instruction manual be designed in an extremely "user unfriendly" way. It made sense for a Japanese user (possibly) but was utterly baffling to the average American user.

I've also been made aware of the salaryman's need to attend after work drinking sessions for team building. These idiotic traditions keep the Japanese from reaching better worker satisfaction and potential. Let them be creative and they will be. All one has to do is see what kind of creative and entrepreneurial spirit comes from immigrants in America. I see new businesses all the time and the riches that come from their hard work where I live. Compared to where they came from, America is a cake walk for the motivated worker.

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post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazabrit

It appears it's not good enough. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said the report should have been independently verified. They were far from impressed by the report and the fact that Apple selected 100 (out of 30,000) people to interview

The Controversy Continues: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5262110.stm

Apple is not Nike, nor does it dictate labor practices in China. It's good enough for me. And I daresay, good enough for Wall Street.

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post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyboy

bergermeister is certainly correct about typical working hours in other parts of japan. i'm here too and see it enough. however, as for reasons for the drop in birthrate i think that the lack of affordable daycare (sadly, there seems to be an unwillingness to grant visas to qualified and willing nannies from korea/china) combined with the highly consumerist society (many people are obsessed with designer goods and many couples are unwilling to give up their luxury goods in order to pay for children) are also very significant factors

Another cause has been the decline in the Japanese economy over the past decade+. It hasn't been a time of positive thinking for the average Japanese. Watching S Korea and China, both past enemies, gain, and then surpass themselves in economic growth, has been disheartening, and has been a contributor to the lack of desire to have a family. The Japanese are very proud. When that pride is assaulted, they tend to either lash out, or withdraw into a shell. The latter has been what we've been seeing, as the former is no longer possible, though the nationalists are trying.

We are seeing the same thing happen in Russia.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazabrit

It appears it's not good enough. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said the report should have been independently verified. They were far from impressed by the report and the fact that Apple selected 100 (out of 30,000) people to interview

The Controversy Continues: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5262110.stm

Quite honestly? Screw them!

They can demand whatever they please. But they know very little about the realities in these third world countries. Or, for their own benefit, choose to ignore them.

They don't like the fact that workers in developed countries are losing their jobs to China and other developing countries.

I can't say that I blame them for that, it does bother me as well. But some of what they want is just not realistic at this time.

It's like the steel workers in this country, who negotiated themselves out of their jobs and industry.
post #21 of 28
I agree guys (about 75% anyway ) but it still doesn't mean the controversy is over.
That's what I was trying to get across in my last post.

The human rights organizations and 'more' importantly Apples competitiors still have something to point out and make a fuss of; which can cause a lot of damage to the brand. Just because Apple released a report doesn't mean we aren't going to see another 100 opinion pieces that links Apple to companies like Nike.

I still automatically link Nike and their business practices to slavery (and worse). Not because I've been keeping an eye on the situation and it's still going-on; BUT because of the sheer amount of press and the campaigns I witnessed in the past. Apple need to apply extra effort to stamp this out ASAP. Negative press is a real bitch for Apple at the moment and with their popularity growing, the press hounds are going to keep on trying to pull them down wherever and whenever they can.
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post #22 of 28
in spite of the comments about working conditions in the us vs asia, i am certain that there are countless people working in the us "black" economy who regularly do this number of hours, if not more
post #23 of 28
Lawyers at high powered firms pull 60-70 hour weeks, but then they make several hundred thousand a year.

The US, in fact, was built on conditions like this. Andrew Carnegie, that famous rich guy who built all those wonderful libraries, made money by housing some of his lowly staff in dorm rooms that had no windows and were over-crowded. He also employed children.

In the US right now, your average CEO makes 400 to 500 times what his underlings make. If this were CHina, someone would surely raise a fuss, but not here. Apple, too, is currently under the microscope for tryiong to make a few extra mills for its great leaders...

Well, times have changed and now the US is the moral leader of the, the, central part of the North American continent.

 

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post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyboy

in spite of the comments about working conditions in the us vs asia, i am certain that there are countless people working in the us "black" economy who regularly do this number of hours, if not more

It's "grey".
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bergermeister

Lawyers at high powered firms pull 60-70 hour weeks, but then they make several hundred thousand a year.

The US, in fact, was built on conditions like this. Andrew Carnegie, that famous rich guy who built all those wonderful libraries, made money by housing some of his lowly staff in dorm rooms that had no windows and were over-crowded. He also employed children.

In the US right now, your average CEO makes 400 to 500 times what his underlings make. If this were CHina, someone would surely raise a fuss, but not here. Apple, too, is currently under the microscope for tryiong to make a few extra mills for its great leaders...

Well, times have changed and now the US is the moral leader of the, the, central part of the North American continent.

You have to read Carnegie's book, and writings. He, like a number of people at the time, believed that life was working towards the afterlife. He believed that most people would not know what to do with money. That they would just waste it, or spend it on drink, and gambling. He believed that the money would be better spent on teacking the population how to be virtuous, etc.

It all seems odd today. But he was an interesting person.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

He believed that most people would not know what to do with money. That they would just waste it, or spend it on drink, and gambling.

Some things will never change.

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post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross

It's "grey".

considering that i basically worked in it whilst selling fruit in colorado a few years ago, in my opinion it is most definitely BLACK
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonnyboy

considering that i basically worked in it whilst selling fruit in colorado a few years ago, in my opinion it is most definitely BLACK

I get your drift.
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