WORKING CONDITIONS at Foxconn factories are better than most, according to the group sent to inspect them.
The Fair Labour Association (FLA) has been investigating conditions at the Apple supplier since, er, earlier this week, and so far, despite what we have heard for years, reports that things look very good indeed.
In an interview with Reuters the president of the FLA, Auret van Heerden said that the investigation is in its early stages, and pondered whether it was boredom that drove some Foxconn staffers to the roof.
"The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm," he said in the interview.
Van Heerden may be assuming that those nets that Foxconn told him about are there to keep birds out.
"I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he added. "So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It's more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps."
Some have expressed concerns about the voluntary audit, including the protest group Sumofus, an organisation that is running a petition drive about working conditions.
In an interview on the US TV show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Sumofss executive director and president Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman suggested that the audit might not get the results needed.
"Let's be clear - the working conditions at these factories are abysmal. Workers are working, you know, 30-hour shifts straight and dying of exhaustion. They are losing the use of their hands after repetitive-stress injuries from polishing the glass for 15 hours a day for years on end," she said.
"This is a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse. The FLA is funded and controlled by the very corporations that it's monitoring. So, while Apple may learn something from these investigations, there's no reason to think that these investigations are actually going to improve the lot of any of these workers suffering from these horrible conditions." µ